Scandal in the Russian VIP transport unit: 70 pilots flying illegally

Eight pilots of the special Rossiya Aviation Unit, responsible for the VIP transport in the Russian Federation, may have not legally obtained the required flying licenses according to Life News.

The Rosaviatsiya agency (Federal Air Transport Agency) gathers 70 pilots working for several Russian airlines to operate the Russian presidential fleet.

The Rossiya unit, based in Vnukovo near Moscow, works under the direction of the Russian President Administration and is responsible for transporting the President, Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and heads of both houses of parliament. Additionaly the General Prosecutor, Secretary of the Security Council, the director of Constitutional Court and Chief of President’s administration are also transported by the unit.

The unit uses 20 planes, including Il-96-300, Tu-154M and Mi-8 helicopters. Some Airbus and Falcon jets have also been used by the agency.

The Life News’s source claims that the Federal Aviation Transport Agency was forced to suspend all the pilots charged with the invalid credentials. The list includes pilots from Rossiya (which along with operating the VIP fleet has scheduled and charter flights from St. Petersburg and Moscow), Aeroflot, Ak Bars Aero, Uralskye Avialinie, Yamal, UTAir and Taymyr.

What connects these professionals is the fact that their training took part in Krylya Nevy training center and, according to Life News, their credentials seem to be suspicious.

At least 7 cases of false licenses have been proven with proper evidence.

There are some doubts about the Federal Aviation Transport Agency itself, concening mainly the passive stance towards the ex-navigators and stewards (!) taking pilot seats. These people had no formal training; in other words, they never learnt to fly.

The issue surfaced after the Tatarstan crash of Boeing 737-500.

The crash was claimed to be caused by the human error and gradually the comittee came to a conclusion that the pilot might have obtained his license in an illegal training center, which was closed down afterwards.

Some experts also affirmed that the Boeing should not have taken to the air regardless of the circumstances, as it was already flying for 23 years, including Africa and South America, and took part in a crash on Belo Horizonte airfield in Brazil.

Additionaly, back in November 2012 the jetliner had an emergency landing in Kazan.

Image Credit: Wiki

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist


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About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.