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Russia is considering ramping up two of its Soviet-era aircraft programs, the Ilyushin Il-96 and the Tupolev Tu-214.

According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov, the reserve capabilities of the production may be activated.

“Together with our colleagues from the transport bloc we are finishing the analysis of the needs and the priority measures. Based on the picture we get, we may activate the reserve of additional production of these aircraft,” Borisov is quoted as saying by Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

Production of the two aircraft has been on the back burner for the last decade, with just several aircraft produced every year.

The Ilyushin Il-96 is a four-engine wide-body aircraft developed in the 1980s based on the Il-86. Approximately 30 Il-96s have been produced since 1988, most of which have been used by Russian military and the country’s governmental fleet.

In 2015, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) announced the development of the Il-96-400M, a vastly upgraded variant intended as a stop-gap measure before the Chinese-Russian CRAIC CR292 becomes available, and also as a possible competitor to Western long-range airliners such as the Boeing 777 and the Airbus A350.

However, in mid-2021, UAC cancelled the Il-96-400M, announcing that no commercial orders were received, and the two prototypes are to be turned into airborne command posts (‘doomsday planes’) by the Russian aerospace forces.

The Tupolev Tu-214 is a variant of the Tu-204 narrow-body airliner from the late 1980s. Roughly comparable to the Boeing 757, the Tu-204 was expected to become the Soviet Union’s primary mid-range airliner. However, only 98 aircraft were produced.

The Tu-214 was developed in the mid-1990s and features an increased maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and fuel capacity in comparison with a regular Tu-204. While several older Tu-204s remain in use with Russian, North Korean and Cuban airlines, only the Russian military and the governmental fleet uses Tu-214s.

AeroComposit, a subsidiary of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), has commenced work on the airframe for the CR929, the Chinese-Russian airliner. Reportedly, the company has just begun producing the wing for the wide-body jet.

The news was revealed on November 19, 2021, at Composites without borders, an online forum for Russian composite materials manufacturers, reports.

In a post on the forum, deputy general director of Irkut, Anatoly Gaydansky, wrote: “The production lines of the AeroComposit factory in Ulyanovsk are busy almost to 100%. The factory is working on two main projects. One of them is manufacturing the wings and the central box of the MC-21. […] The second one – manufacturing wings for the Russian-Chinese CR929.”

He continued: “We are working on the prototypes [of the CR929] and developing the manufacturing processes.”

In September 2021, production of the prototype officially began at COMAC’s factory in Linang, although it was not announced what part of the airliner would be manufactured at the site.

The CR929 was conceived as a Chinese-Russian co-production from the onset. Russia’s biggest contribution will be composite parts that make up most of the airframe, including the wings and the fuselage.

AeroComposit owns the main composite material production facilities in Russia. The company manufactures composite wings of the MC-21 airliner, as well as some parts for the SSJ New, an updated version of the SSJ100 regional jet.

The CR929 will be a long-range wide-body airliner designed to compete with Boeing and Airbus wide-body jets, primarily the787 Dreamliner and the A330neo.

The aircraft will be produced by CRAIC, a joint venture of China’s COMAC and Russia’s UAC.

The project was launched in 2014, but was slowed down by numerous difficulties. For most of 2020, COMAC and UAC were locked in a bitter confrontation over the sales rights of the aircraft, which caused delays and pushed back the jet’s first delivery dates to 2028-2029.

Ukraine is set to establish a new national airline called Ukrainian National Airlines (UNA), the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky announced during the Big Construction: Aviation and Tourism forum on November 25, 2021.

«In addition to the promises, we are moving to practical implementation — this is our national air carrier, its creation will be officially launched today. We are ready to invest in the air fleet, involve world leaders in joint projects,” Zelensky said.

During the forum, Airbus and the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU). The new document defines the algorithm for further cooperation of the parties in the framework of creating Ukraine’s new national airline, including the purchase of 22 aircraft.

«We see that in Ukraine, a country that has extremely great potential for tourism, business and any new opportunities, there is great potential for creating a new carrier,” Airbus Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Kimon Sotiropoulos commented in a statement.

Sotiropoulos remarked that Ukraine’s new flag-carrier will be established from scratch, which makes it possible to “immediately invest in new technologies, in a better fleet that will leave less carbon footprint, consume less fuel and therefore would be more environmentally friendly”.

Oleksandr Kubrakov, the Minister of Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure, added: «This is the first step when we can start cooperating as two equal partners.”

A Let L-410 cargo plane crashed shortly before arrival at Bukavu-Kavumu Airport, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The two pilots and two passengers were killed.

The plane, owned by the company Agefreco Air, was carrying out a domestic flight from Kalima-Kakungwa Airport (KLY) to Bukavu-Kavumu Airport (BKY), both in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo on August 13, 2020.

Air traffic control lost contact seven minutes before the expected landing time, as the aircraft crashed while approaching its destination airport. The wreckage was located near the boundaries of the Kahuzi Biega National Park, in a densely forested area of the South Kivu province. The four occupants died in the accident.

«The investigation will determine the cause of the accident. I share the pain with the grieving families and offer my deepest condolences,» said Theo Kasi, governor of South Kivu.

On October 11, 2019, the crash of an Antonov An-72 cargo plane operated by the Congolese Air Force near Punia in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed eight people. The aircraft was transporting logistical support for the president Félix Tshisekedi.

Qatar Airways and Emirates go head-to-head in rebuilding their previous network sizes in the wake of COVID-19’ initial wave.

The two Middle Eastern giants, Qatar Airways and Emirates, mid-July 2020 have showcased increasing competitiveness, going back and forth to take the top network position. Looking at the last 30 days of airlines’ press releases for comparison, from July 15, 2020, to August 13, 2020, Qatar has reopened 16 of its previous destinations while Emirates topped that with a total of 20 of its own. As of August 13, 2020, Qatar’s total network connects 80 destinations against the Emirates’ 75.

Interestingly, there are some overlapping similarities when it comes to network expansion of the Middle Eastern juggernauts. Collectively, both Qatar Airways and Emirates have reopened eight exact same destinations to Malé, Addis Ababa, Cebu, Clark, Guangzhou, Nairobi, Houston and Lisbon. At the same time, the date range of airlines’ announcements about reinstating said destinations falls no more than six calendar days apart, while statements about Malé and Addis Ababa were virtually released on the same day.

Moreover, on August 9, 2020, the Emirates have said to be resuming flight to Peshawar, while also ramping up its weekly Pakistan services to 60 flights. In parallel, on August 10, 2020, Qatar’s press release announced an increase in weekly Pakistan flights to a total of 49.

With the first wave of COVID-19 slowly receding, the borders have consequently opened up, allowing carriers to reintroduce their international services. At the same time, an overwhelming majority of airlines have reported record losses in the first two quarters of FY2020. IATA estimates that international and domestic flights will only return to pre-COVID levels by the end of 2024.

Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport’s (BEY) building sustained damage by the massive ammonium nitrate explosion that leveled Beirut port and caused over 100 casualties on August 4, 2020. Despite that, reportedly, its operations were not interrupted.

According to information posted on Facebook group Lebanese Plane Spotters, the airport windows were shattered and some light structures collapsed. The airport is located some 8.5 kilometers from the dock where the explosion happened.

The next confirmed departure happened at 7:40 PM, an hour-and-a-half after the explosion, and no incoming flights are reported to have diverted. According to Flightradar24 data several flights should have been taking off and landing just minutes after the event, but there has been no confirmation of their delays so far.

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines has not sustained any damage to its aircraft parked at the airport and will continue its operations.