ICAO Calls on Russia to Cease Dual Aircraft Registration

 - June 29, 2022, 9:16 AM
An Aeroflot Boeing 777-300ER takes off from Seoul Incheon International Airport in 2015. (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons (BY-SA) by byeangel)

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has called on Russia to cease re-registering aircraft to allow for their operation even after the countries where the airplanes’ owners registered them had revoked their airworthiness certificates. During its most recent session, on Tuesday, the ICAO Council called on Russia to “immediately cease” its infractions of the Chicago Convention, which explicitly prohibits the registration of an aircraft in more than one state. It also called on the Kremlin to “urgently remedy” its violations in the interest of preserving the safety and security of civil aviation.

“Article 18 of the Chicago Convention provides that an aircraft cannot be validly registered in more than one State, although its registration may be changed from one state to another,” said ICAO in a statement. “Once a state has registered an aircraft, a number of safety-related obligations fall upon it by virtue of the Chicago Convention and its annexes. The dual registration of aircraft raises safety concerns relating to, among others, the international validity of each airplane's certificate of airworthiness and radio station license.”

The ICAO Council also requested the organization’s secretary general to report any continuing violations to all Chicago Convention contracting states and decided to submit the matter to the 41st session of the ICAO Assembly this September/October for consideration.

A wave of sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in February included an order by the European Union for EU companies to end their lease contracts with Russian airlines.

Meanwhile, Russian airlines essentially ceased their lease payments to international aircraft lessors in response to legislation announced by the Kremlin on March 10 that required them to make overseas payments in the grossly devalued ruble currency.

The industry’s largest aircraft lessor—Ireland’s AerCap—reported on March 30 that it terminated its lease contracts with Russian customers ahead of the EU’s March 28 deadline but managed to repossess only 22 of its 135 aircraft in the country.  

AerCap’s situation is not unique among international leasing companies, which owned some 515 of the 777 aircraft leased in Russia before the conflict. Notwithstanding the March 28 EU deadline to repossess aircraft, Russia’s declaration that the sanctions amounted to an act of war—prompting the Kremlin to effectively take possession of the aircraft—and the fact that EU, U.S., and Canadian sanctions have effectively prevented Russian-controlled aircraft from flying in European and North American airspace severely complicated the task from the start.