Aeroflot Reportedly Flying Nine Airliners Without Brakes (Clarified)


Aerotime says the Moscow Times is reporting that Aeroflot has deactivated the brakes on at least six widebody airliners and three single-aisle because it can’t get replacements for worn-out parts due to trade sanctions. Pilots have been told to compensate for the missing brakes when landing. Aerotime apparently translated the Moscow Times story and some associated memos from Aeroflot and reported the planes are allowed to fly with the deactivated brakes for up to 10 days, but it’s not clear what will happen when the time is up. It’s an accepted practise to deactivate the brakes on one or more wheels on multi-wheel trucks but it’s not clear the extent to which Aerflot is doing it

Aviatorschina got hold of Aeroflot’s memo to pilots on the move, but it doesn’t offer much clarity, except that performance penalties are expected. “The aircraft will tend to turn to the side where the brakes are not deactivated,” the translated memo reportedly says. “Pay attention to this fact, especially when landing on a wet runway with a crosswind!!! There are restrictions on the width of the runway. The risk of overrunning the runway!!!” Five Boeing 777s, an A330, two A321s and an A320 are currently flying without brakes according to the memos and reports.

An earlier version of this story did not add the context that airliner brakes are sometimes deactivated to defer the maintenance on one or more wheels.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. I have a friend who once worked for ESA out of Luxembourg back in the ’90’s and occasionally HAD to fly to Moscow on Aeroflot and he described the aircraft then as in pretty sad shape. It appears that nothing has really changed. Obviously airworthiness isn’t a big concern either that or they have a strange MEL on their aircraft.

  2. There must be a translation issue…without brakes would make me assume they meant “without autobrakes”.
    Totally ludicrous otherwise.

    • It actually wouldn’t surprise me if they actually mean “without (friction) brakes”, given the history Aeroflot has.

    • Carbon brakes (especially for airplanes) are a highly specialized product that’s difficult to manufacture properly, and they’re produced by only a handful of companies in the world.

      Unless one of those companies happens to be based somewhere like China, Iran or North Korea, sanctions are going to make it extremely for Aeroflot to get replacement brakes, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’re just deactivating seriously worn brakes.

  3. I have always loved rumors during combat operations. Having served in 3 wars I can’t begin to count how many rumors came from Nam to OIF to the Gulf and now Russia/Ukraine.

    However, IN ALL FAIRNESS, I’m sure the press would never misrepresent any news. BTW how are the ghost of Kyiv pilot and the Snake Island soldiers doing?

    I guess when it is absolutely, positively needed to make a country the bad guy we can manufacture anything. Until it’s proven it’s just another rumor floating around.

  4. In reply to EK: Seriously? 1) You think a story about 9 Aeroflot planes without brakes is going to do more harm to Russia’s reputation than Putin’s behavior – including the current war with Ukraine? 2) You think the press is smart enough to conceive such a relatively insignificant story in the scheme of everything going on in the world right now (i.e. this story is relatively insignificant)?

  5. On some aircraft it’s possible to lose normal foot pedal brakes without losing the hand-operated emergency parking brake. As the hand brake does not allow differential braking, that could account for the comments on directional control after landing.

  6. I believe the mistake being made about brakes being “deactivated” is that the writer is misintrepreting a SINGLE wheel brake being deactivated on a multi-wheel landing gear truck, which is a routine procedure done all the time, with ALL brakes being deactivated, which is NEVER done.

    Airliners fly every single day all over the world fly with an individual brake deactivated on a multi-wheel landing gear truck. I have done so. On the 757 and 767 aircraft, brakes can be deactivated by capping the brake line or using a special tool to deactivate the brake. There are takeoff and landing performance adjustments that must be made.

    • Yes, what Bill is saying here is 100% correct. I’ve flown many an airliner with a single wheel brake inoperative. The bigger question is are they complying with the impactful (pun intended) performance adjustments?

  7. I would think it more likely they are telling the pilots to make every effort to avoid using brakes for landing deceleration in order to preserve remaining lining & stocks as long as possible. Hard to imagine operating in the ground environment with no brakes at all.

  8. It’s commonplace to deactivate a brake on an airliner, not ALL the brakes just one possibly 2, there are severe performance penalties imposed which of course restricts payload…

    • Thanks to everyone with knowledge on the topic who put this into context. Since I don’t read Russian, I had to go with the results from those who do and there was clearly misunderstanding about the procedures involved. Thanks for clarifying and I’ll fix the story.

  9. “I don’t read Russian, I had to go with the results from those who do…”

    Russ, don’t feel bad. I Googled the story and have found at least three other sources with the same results. So it must be true by now. An “illusory truth effect” maybe.