EDITORIAL: The Catastrophic Failure of Russian Aerospace


The Catastrophic Failure of Russian Aerospace

Russia’s aerospace program appears to be collapsing.

The latest series of horrifying incidents began in June with the crash of a TU-134 airliner while attempting to land near Petrozavodsk, killing all of its nearly four dozen passengers.  The government was forced to order the entire model out of service.

Days later, a MiG-29 fighter jet crashed inexplicably, and the government was left with no choice but to order that model out of service too, even though Russia had just inked a larger sale of the model to India.

Then, in an epic humiliation, when Russia rolled out its version of the F-22 Stealth Raptor during its annual international air show an engine collapsed during takeoff and the plane could not get airborn.

Next, a swarm of bees attacked a Moscow-bound Boeing 757, from the inside.

And most recently, an entire Russian ice hockey team was wiped out in a horrific crash  near the city of Yaroslavl on the Volga.

Meanwhile, objects even higher up began dropping out of the sky.

First, Russia “lost” the Express AM-4, which would have been Europe’s largest communications satellite, just after launching it.  Days later, a cargo rocket bound for the international space station failed five minutes after blasting off and crashed into a forest in Siberia where locals were collecting pine nuts.

One lost spaceship may be an accident. Two seems like carelessness.

This deeply disturbing chain of events was by no means an aberration:  Russia’s air safety record is a stunning thirteen times higher than the world average, and it’s been that way forever, dating back to Soviet times. After all, Russia is presided over by a proud KGB spy.  The whole world understands that it is simply not a good idea to get on a Russian plane.

What’s different now is that it’s much harder for the state to hide its spectacular failure from the West since the collapse of the Soviet police state.  If the people of Russia, with much better information now than before, continue to allow such epic failure and betrayal of the national interest to continue on the part of the clan of KGB thugs who rule them, then they alone are responsible for the dire consequences that are inevitable.

41 responses to “EDITORIAL: The Catastrophic Failure of Russian Aerospace

  1. I can remember reading an article in Readers Digest many, many years ago explaining the dismal failures of the U.S.S.R.’s space programs, where the Americans were even monitoring the heart beats of the cosmonauts as they were blasted off into space and orbited the earth.

    Now it must be remembered the soviets never announced a launch before the event, only after it was successfully completed.

    Hence in the Readers Digest article it was pointed out that Gargarin was not the first soviet cosmonaut that mother Russian sent into space, as the Americans had recorded data of irregular heart beats that Medical Specialist recognized as the malfunctioning heartbeat of a dying cosmonaut.

    It is beyond dispute that Gargarin was the first soviet cosmonaut that returned to earth ALIVE!!! And to me all his photos where the face was very clearly visible revealed a man ‘doped’ up to the eye balls with pain killers – side effects of his space odyssey. It did not surprise me when the soviets announced his death in a plane crash/accident. But was it a real plane accident or the results of his cosmos flight.

    The dismal failure of the U.S.S.R. and its replacement with the current neo soviet Russia, has resulted in the successors not being able to enforce the strict news block outs that the predecessors were able to enforce. Thus the free world hears more of the truth, albeit be it a running list of dismal failures.

    I ask has anything changed? I say yes but only in the number of the comrades being slaughtered in the name of Russian communism in their Siberian GULAG’s, oops I mean holiday resorts, LOL.

    • :Just after mr. Gargarin’s happy return to earth, while visiting Poland, there was immediately that magnificent Polish Joke – When Gargarin arrived in Warsaw, Polish society was in shock; poor gargarin was covered with cuts, bruises and he had a black eyes. Apparently when Gargarin was forceably inplanted into the rocket by 20 kgb agents, he was fighting for his life, kicking and screaming – hence the bruises and cuts on his body…..

      • And surely Gagarin was Polish. All the world would know this, had the KGB not murder all witnesses.

      • Manfred Steifschwanz

        In addition to Pshekistan being characterized by its worthless people, worthless culture, and worthless faith we may also add its Very Creative English.

        Could you please expand on “forceably inplanted” ? Are you high on cocaine or something when posting?

  2. Old planes are old. They require replacement or at least proper care. SSJ is nice, if it will be produced at proper rate, it may avert the decline of civilian aviation, also there is a MS-21 project, it will go into serial production in 2016. Until then Russia will stick to import and old planes made in USSR.

    As to space, number of launches per year climbed steadily in Russia and China while declined for US in the last decade. Thats plain fact. The only really major problem in Russian aerospace is lack of young specialists. Preferences in education shift from economics and law to technological areas (this trend is seen since 2007), but it will take much time till new physicists, chemists and engineers will grow. In the meantime old specialists should have to carry the burden.

    Return of brains may happen too, when crisis strikes hard. When stocks plummet worldwide ‘obsolete’ ‘pre-postindustrial’ Russian economy will continue to run, while US and some European countries start to plunge into chaos.

  3. MS-21 will never fly, it is a paper plane, and Sukhoi Superjet doesn’t have an impressive custome base, although Boeing and Alenia are supporting this project. Most customers are unknown or bankrupt airlines, the only serious one is Aeroflot.

    Russia is also loosing is traditional customers for warplanes. India is eliminating Russia in every tender, China is starting its own manufacturing.
    On the engine side, they also have problems:

  4. Auriga the Russophile shows her true ilk again.

    Now one cares if you can “build planes”, after all, many countries have the industrial and engineering capacity to build cars. What matters is if you can sell them.

    Russia diverts billions to its aerospace industry (and it can do so not only because it is a closed, backwards, isolated dictatorship) and still can only bribe a limited customer base to buy them, and most still won’t. For instance, Aeroflot prefers Boeing and Airbus products.

    Yes, you are right that there is a critical lack of your engineers in the aviation industry in Russia. And why is that?

    Furthermore, if Russia was a normal country, part of the civilized world, let’s take the WTO to start, it would not be able to divert billions to its failed aviation industry. Case in point — Embraer getting rulings over Canada’s Bombardier for some minuscule financing from Canadian federal and provincial governments.

    Get over it Auriga. Russia’s situation, especially with people like you, is increasingly hopeless.

  5. Russia can build and sell planes, their product is licensed abroad.

    The problem is the weird import regulations they have on Western aircraft, more than 400 seats and less than 10 years old gets in import duty free.

    Everything else needs some shady Cayman deal.

    Which is why the 134 was still flying, they can’t the planes they need, and they straddle 8 timezones.

    • I don’t understand. You say that very large Western planes can be imported duty free. OK. How does that prevent Russia from selling their planes abroad? or at home? To say nothing that very few Western planes seat 400

  6. “then they alone are responsible for the dire consequences that are inevitable”

    I wonder what will happen… Kim, maybe you could write different topic with some scenarios for Russia’s future and then we could discuss it in comments…? It would be interesting…

    By the way, about 1% of the population immigrated from Russia last year, so not everybody agree but they can’t change it… not easy, I don’t blame them…

  7. I guess, more correct is to say “emigrated”, right? Eh?

  8. To add insult to injury, the biggest communications satelite could not be found by the Russian Space Agency. It took the Americans to find it and tell them where it was. Of course it was in the wrong orbit and useless.

  9. Russia’s failures in aerospace are so significant, because this is an area where Russians still claim superiority over the West, plane and weapons are the only high tech products the Soviet Union Russia has exported.


    The Russian still refer to Sputnik and Gagarin, to Tupolev, Mikoyan and Sukhoi, but this is the past. Today they have indeed a huge lack of specialists, because in the 90ies, all bright kids wanted to study business or law instead of physics or mechanical engineering.

    Additionally, they have absolutely no experience in marketing and in after sales service. The Soviet Union sold (or gave) planes to other socialists nations without doing a sales campaign. Later they sold to nations which cannot or do not want to buy Western equipment. This customer base is melting away and those who recently purchased Russian planes have not been satisfied with the quality:


    Thins the 90ies, they have not managed to established a proper after sales service system, getting spare parts for Russian planes is a nightmare.


  10. Max,

    Interesting, very interesting.

    I guess we’ll have to wait and see how neo soviet Russia comes out of this scenario? But I certainly won’t be lining up to fly in their new merchandise – let the other guinea pigs do that.

  11. Auriga,

    It is truly difficult to keep up with the daily crashes of russian made military and civilian planes. In case, auriga, you didn’t know what is going on in your russian ‘paradise’ – today ANOTHER Antonov crashed both killing both pilots.

  12. Russian airliner in fatal crash near Yaroslavl An airliner carrying a major league ice hockey team has crashed in Russia killing 36 people.

    Reports said the plane burst into flames near an airport at the city of Yaroslavl, about 200km (140 miles) north of Moscow.

    Members of the local ice hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl were on board the plane.

    Emergency officials said one person survived the crash, the cause of which has not been confirmed.

    Reports said the plane was a Yak-42, a mid-sized jet with a capacity of more than 100 passengers.

    The hockey team was heading to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where it was due to play against Dinamo Minsk in the opening game of the season of the Continental Hockey League.

  13. Russia plane crash kills 36, agencies report

    Moscow (CNN) — A plane crashed as it took off from Russia’s Yaroslavl airport Wednesday afternoon, killing 36 people, Russian news agencies reported.
    The Yak-42 aircraft was taking members of a hockey team to Minsk, the Belarusian capital, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.
    The plane belonged to Yak-Service Airlines, the aviation authority told Interfax news agency.
    Yaroslavl is about 155 miles (250km) northeast of the capital, Moscow.
    A Russian Emergency Situations Ministry representative said there were 37 people aboard, including four crew members.
    Preliminary information indicates 36 died and one is missing, the ministry said.
    However, the Russian Federal Aviation Agency said three people had survived the crash and that their condition was critical.


  14. A MiG-31 also just crashed, it’s happening literally every day now.


    The technical condition of the Air Force fleet “leaves much to be desired,” said Magomed Tolboyev, a veteran test pilot and honorary president of MAKS, Russia’s top air show, Interfax reported. He added that the MiG-31 is a “dependable” jet if maintained properly.

    The news site Moscow Post, citing an unidentified source, reported that all Russian MiG-31s are seriously worn and the last model of the plane was produced in 1994.

    • The news site Moscow Post, citing an unidentified source, reported that all Russian MiG-31s are seriously worn and the last model of the plane was produced in 1994.

      That’s a pathetic (and not unexpected) excuse from the Russians, after all, the USAF and USANG and many other air forces around the world operate aircraft that first flew in the 1950’s!!! such as the B-52, A-4, and many other types that were built from the 1950’s through to the 80’s.

      In fact, the USAF intends to keep the B-52H model in service until 2045, which will be 90 years after the first B-52 flew.

      • The planes were not “worn out” from using (not much even for training pilots – fuel shortages), but because of bad/no maintaince (remember the Russian space shuttle, which got destroyed in its own hangar, after just one flight?).

        Just like the Russian ground military vehicles, scores of whom broke down while just driving to Georgia (including broken tanks in the middle of the mountain roads blocking traffic), and many more in the zone of conflict. And it was from the supposedly elite force deployed in the North Caucasus.

        Russian response (typically Russian):

        One Russian armoured vehicle broke down 150 metres away from their post. Journalists went up and began to ask questions. The Russian soldiers swore at them. Several of the Georgian women journalists answered back, saying, “What are you doing on Georgian territory, what do you need here? Go away, leave us in peace.” Then the Russian soldiers pointed their weapons at them, swore and shouted, “If you don’t go away and shut up, we’ll open fire.”

        About their “maintaince”:


        Of course, only a small part of these “20,000” tanks is not just literally junk now.


        • And yes, fuel shortages in one of the world’s top crude oil producers.

          But there’s also a “nationwide shortage of pilots”!

          Russia and the other former Soviet republics combined had the world’s worst air traffic safety record in 2009, with an accident rate 13 times higher than the world average, according to the International Air Transport Association.
          There are currently 10,000 commercial pilots in Russia, but an estimated 1,000 retire every year, or go overseas to work.
          The country needs at least 700-800 pilots a year, according to Yevgeny Bachurin, the former head of Russian air transport agency Rosaviatsiya.
          “Pilots are leaving due to age, and we’re not training enough to replace them,” Bachurin said. “In 1990 in the Soviet era we trained 1,300 a year, and now we train only about 230.”
          “In modern-day Russia the aviation education market is non-existent,” says Miroshnichenko of Aviapersonal. “In the United States, for instance, there are more than 600 accredited FAA training centers. In Russia, there are only six. If there is no market, there is no future for our pilots”.

          Little fuel, fewer and fewer pilots, “worn” aircraft, decaying infrastructure… all that remains is their enormous ego and flat denial (and homegrown terrorists).

  15. The only reaction to another russian ‘bouchery in the air’ in Yaroslavl should be the CANCELLATION of the Sochi Olympics – just to save the lives of potential future victims – the tourists – from russian barbarity…

    • mccusa,

      ‘Wanna’ bet that neo soviet Russian will either hire or buy commercial passenger carrying airliners from any of the capitalist countries so as to save the humiliation of having to explain away any neo soviet aircraft air crashes full of foreign tourists silly enough to travel to the Sochi Olympics.

      The above paragraph does not take into account how the Muslims alone will react to the Sochi Olympics!!! being held on ‘their territory’.

      • Bohdan, You are right; they will lease some western made safe planes, but I don’t think the tourists will be flocking into russia any time soon – it is not only the planes but the services on the ground which are nonexistant and totally appalling..

        By the way, I sincerely hope that the Arab World will eventually wake up and see the perfidy and duplicity of russia – fighting for Palestine and at the same time slaughtering the whole muslim nations of the Northern Caucasus…..If Palestine become independent so should Tatarstan and every single non-russian so called republic, enclave or territory. .. Libya made the first step by declaring nul and void the russia’s contract of 4 billion US dollars for delivery of russia armament….

  16. It is little wonder that Russia’s “Aeroflot” is actually known in the free Western world as “Aeroflop” as their beloved aircraft keep on falling – i.e. ‘flopping’ out the skies with monotonous regularity.

    Furthermore, it must be borne in mind that the Russian communist dictatorship never allowed reporting of their plane crashes UNLESS any of the injured or killed passengers were actually of US, British, German etc, etc, citizenship – whose injuries or deaths could not be covered up by officially sponsored silence. Even then, when reporting not all their air disasters, the soviet Russian had the worst safety record of all commercial flying aircraft operated countries, that is until it was overtaken by the sino communist Chinese. But then need I ask “and where did they (the Chinese) obtain/buy their planes from?”

  17. Russian aircraft were good in their day but are now obsolete and poorly maintained -much as everything else in Russia.

    These planes fall out of the sky with such frequency that unless it goes down in a populated area or has high-profile passengers one is likely to never hear of it.

    The aging passenger Tupolovs and Illyushins are so bad that they may only fly domestically.

    • Well, some were good in their day, but most were and are deathtraps, such as the TU-134.

      • Thank you Lord that Georgia was able to sell off two of it’s power plants and found some money to buy a first 40 years old Airbus last summer. Now they are looking for money to hire pilots, right?:))

      • Oh, BTW, I checked Wikipedia articles on airlines in Georgia, and guess which model is used most often in the country? You’ll be really surprised:))

  18. Russia Is ‘Most Dangerous Place To Fly’

    Medvedev, who altered his timetable to visit the site of the crash on September 8, ordered a dramatic reduction in the number of domestic airlines, in a bid to weed out Russia’s many budget carriers inclined to dangerously skimp on costs to maintain tight profit margins.

    But for many observers, the high frequency of plane crashes in Russia points to a systemic problem tied to the legacy of the Soviet Union and its aging infrastructure.

    “I think what is happening is far from coincidental,” said Ruslan Grinberg, director of the economic institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    “We are not just talking here about the human factor when there is lower degree of professionalism. There is also dilapidated infrastructure. We can bemoan that or not, but this industrial landscape was created – and now it is it is beginning to fall apart of its own accord.”

    The crash of the Yakovlev marks the thirteenth serious plane accident or incident in Russia this year, according to the online Aviation Safety database, which it says makes the country the most dangerous place to fly in 2011.

    The latest air disaster comes on the heels of the crash of a Tupolev Tu-134 plane on June 20 in Russia’s Karelia region that killed 47 people.

    Another major air disaster was narrowly averted on July 11 when the left engine of an Antonov-24 passenger plane burst into flames in midair. The pilot managed a crash landing, although six members of the crew were still killed.

    Following that fatal incident, Medvedev issued an order grounding some older Soviet-era planes pending safety checks, with a view to phasing them out of use completely. But the deadly June crash was eventually found to be due to pilot error.

    The Yak-42 is reported to have crashed after it was unable to gain enough altitude when it took off from Tunoshna airport near the city of Yaroslavl 250 kilometers north east of Moscow. It exploded on impact.

    Russian investigators have said they believe the crash was caused either by faulty equipment or pilot error, since weather conditions were excellent.


  19. I read an article the other day to my wife. I said, “There has been a terrible plane crash, guess where”? She said, without skipping a beat, “Russia”?
    We live in Vladivostok and she is in terror every time we fly out of here.

    • Sure, JT, it’s catastrophic. The thing is, most of these small air companies only rent old planes, that their pilots have little flying hours, and that they just don’t have enough money to buy anything better than this.

  20. Reports: Russian ballistic missile fails in test

    The news reports didn’t name the missile’s type, but said that it was a development of the Topol-M and the Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles designed by Moscow’s Institute for Thermal Technologies.

    The same maker has designed the Bulava missile for the navy that has experienced numerous failures during its ongoing test program.

    Read more:


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