An Airbus A320-232 with the tail number YU-APH made its first flight on December 13, 2005. Since then, the aircraft has clocked millions of miles, flying routes for Air Deccan, Kingfisher Airlines, Bingo Airways, and Syphax Airlines before being taken over by Air Serbia, the Eastern European country’s national flag carrier, in 2014.
For eight years, YU-APH flew without any issues—until it landed at 10:37 pm on May 25, 2022, at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. It had flown in from Belgrade and was due to take off again on a late-night return within the hour. But there was a problem: The pilot had reported an issue with the plane’s engine casing that needed to be fixed. The supplier of the broken part, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Collins Aerospace, reportedly refused to fix the problem, citing sanctions against Russia resulting from its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The plane was stuck. (Collins Aerospace did not respond to a request for comment.)
It took six days for the problem to be fixed and the A320 to depart Moscow for Belgrade. Air Serbia also did not respond to a request for comment about how the engine casing was replaced or fixed, and who manufactured the part. YU-APH managed to remedy its fault, but there are increasing international concerns that planes flying into, from, and around Russia could become a safety risk as sanctions prevent them from being maintained properly. Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency, said at a recent conference that he felt the situation was “very unsafe.” “In six months—who knows? In one year—who knows?” he said.