Bermuda suspends airworthiness certificates for Russian-operated aircraft
Bermuda has suspended all airworthiness certificates for Russian-operated aircraft that are registered in Bermuda.
The Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority said international sanctions mean it cannot maintain safety oversight of Russian-operated aircraft and therefore all certificates of airworthiness would be suspended from 23:59 on March 12, 2022.
“The airworthiness system has been restricted to the point that the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) is unable to confidently approve these aircraft as being airworthy,” it said in a statement on March 12, 2022.
Manufacturers, including Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and GE, have all said they will stop providing support for Russian carriers. China has also refused to supply Russian carriers with aircraft parts, Interfax reported.
The International Air Transport Association has been cited as saying it does not support sanctions that prevent aircraft parts and support being provided to Russia airlines because of the impact they could have on safety.
Many lessors have used Bermuda as the state of registry for planes that they lease to Russian operators.
The BCAA has previously said that “a significant amount” of the more than 900 aircraft that are currently registered with Bermuda, are used by commercial Russian air operators. The Bermudan minister of transport, William L Scott, said on March 4, 2022 that there were approximately 484 aircraft on the Bermuda Registry with entities incorporated in Ireland through leasing companies.
Lessors have until March 28, 2022 to terminate lease contracts with Russian operators, according to sanctions placed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
Without an airworthiness certificate, aircraft must be grounded. However, Russia authorities have been discussing measures to help keep the aircraft, including re-registering them. This means that safety oversight would pass to Russian aviation authorities.
Having Russia unilaterally re-register their planes is one of the many challenges facing lessors with aircraft leased to Russia airlines.
According to data from consultancy IBA, the total number of aircraft on lease currently to operators in the Russian Federation as of 10th March 2022, is 523 aircraft. The total includes only aircraft on lease from non-Russian entities. However, repossessing those aircraft is proving difficult, with Russia reportedly advising airlines not to fly to foreign destinations using leased aircraft to avoid the chance of aircraft being seized while outside of Russia.
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