Russian airlines are stripping jetliners for spare parts because they are unable to access repairs due to sanctions imposed by countries in response to the war in Ukraine, according to industry sources.
One Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet 100 and an Airbus A 350 operated by the country's largest airline, Aeroflot, are grounded and dismantled, a source told Reuters.
The source said that equipment has also been taken from Aeroflot's Boeing 737 s and Airbus A 320 s.
In June, Russia's government advised airlines to use some aircraft for parts to make sure that the rest of foreign-built planes can continue flying at least through 2025.
Since its invasion of Ukraine in February, Russia has been hampered by the sanctions that have been imposed on it, and it has prevented its airlines from getting spare parts or maintenance in the West.
The Russian Ministry of Transport and Aeroflot were contacted for comment.
No spare parts, repairs to 'hurt' are allowed.
Russian-assembled Sukhoi Superjets are heavily dependent on foreign parts.
An engine has already been removed from a Superjet to allow another to continue flying, the source said.
A Western aviation industry source said that it was only a matter of time before Russian-based planes cannibalised.
A 320 neo, A 350 and Boeing 737 MAX and 787 are newer generations of jets that have technology that needs to be updated frequently.
Within a year of the sanctions, western sources said it would be a challenge to keep modern jets in service, even for Russia's highly developed and competent engineering base.
Financial difficulties are linked to the practice of removing parts to keep another plane flying.
It has never happened on the same scale as the widespread reshuffle in Russia in order to address the impact of sanctions.
If parts are taken away, a jetline may be made operational again.
This would not necessarily reconstitute the traceability needed for jets to enter global markets as many parts have a limited life that must be logged.
According to calculations based on data from Flightradar 24, about 50 Aeroflot planes, or 15 per cent of its fleet, have not taken off since late July.
Three out of seven Airbus A 350 s operated by Aeroflot, including one that was used for parts, did not take off for about three months, according to the data from Flightradar 24.
Oleg Panteleev, head of the Aviaport think-tank, said Western manufacturers understood almost all Superjets were being operated in Russia.
He said you can stop producing parts and shipping spare parts, and it's going to hurt.
The Russian government wants to keep two-thirds of the foreign fleet operational by the end of 2025, due to the partial dismantling of certain parts of the aircraft fleet.
The main challenge will be to keep the engines and sophisticated electronic equipment in working order, according to Panteleev.
In the second quarter of this year, Aeroflot experienced a 22 per cent decline in traffic compared to 2021, according to the company's data.
Securing supplies from countries that have not imposed sanctions on Russia is unlikely to help, as companies from Asia and the Middle East fear a risk of secondary sanctions against them by Western governments, according to sources.
If the documents had a Russian airline as the final buyer, then no one would agree to supply, neither China nor Dubai, the first source said.