Russian Pilots Protest EASA’s Blanket Flight Ban


A Russian pilot who lives in Europe is asking aviation officials there to get more specific in aviation sanctions prompted by the invasion of Ukraine. The pilot, whom we’ve granted anonymity since an earlier version of the story was published, told AVweb the EU’s ban on Russian aviation has grounded pilots who have no connection to the Putin regime other than the fact they hold Russian passports. “Holders of PPL licenses can’t rent airplanes in their flying clubs, students can’t continue training, self-employed commercial pilots can’t work, aircraft owners are grounded too, and even drone owners can’t fly their drones,” the pilot told AVweb. He said he’s asking EASA officials to adopt the more prescriptive approach adopted by the FAA in the U.S. to target the sanctions appropriately. The pilot said EASA issued the blanket ban on all Russian pilots, except those who work for non-Russian companies, on Feb. 28 in response to the invasion of Ukraine. He said the U.S. originally issued similar sanctions but about two weeks later changed them to target only Russians on the International Trade Administration’s Consolidated Screening List, which tells U.S. officials with whom they can’t conduct business. He said the EU apparently cast a much wider net to try to ensure Russian pilots who shouldn’t be flying in Europe couldn’t find any loopholes but the result goes too far and may be illegal. The pilot said many of the grounded pilots he knows support Ukraine and are involved in relief efforts. “We believe that solidarity with one nation must not be a reason to treat the other nation discriminatively, especially on such a high legislative level,” he said. 

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. Wow…if they are banning regular old Russian citizens because of Putin, they should be banning us from the World in general because of our PotatoHead. Ours is killing 332,915,073 of us. Many more than Ukraine.

  2. Authorities have to have ways to sanction the privileges exercised under their jurisdiction. Not possible when a
    “third country” is disregarding key international agreements and pilot’s only liability is their third country passport. Discrimination based on political views sounds ridiculous.

  3. IMO The squeeze must be put on every single Russian. Maybe Maybe Maybe that will be the way to get the tug PooTin out of the way. When enough pressure is on eventually something gives. Russians want their thug they must pay the price. That is War.

    • Precisely, Oliver. Silence by the Russian masses (pilots) — however well-intentioned they may be — is ostensibly tacit approval of what PooTin is doing. IF it’s true that PooTin still has a high approval rating by the general populace, that is telling, too. WE can’t initiate a US Dept of Russian Good Guys and Bad Guys to sort ’em out; selective enforcement of any sanctions merely dilutes their effectivity. ONLY when the masses become heavily and negatively impacted in many, many ways will they clamor for him to stop or for his ouster. Not having Big Mac’s available is an inconvenience to some; all Russians need to feel real pain, as you said. They are the only sword he feels or fears; he can’t send all of Russia to the Gulag’s. At some point, they WILL turn on him.

      It’s the opposite of what the Ukrainian people are doing. They ARE putting their actions to work defending their Nation and borders as best as they can. They are setting an example for the rest of the world. They gave up their nuclear assets in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum trusting the Rus and look what they got FOR it — death and destruction on a scale not seen since WWII. They shoulda taken note of Neville Chamberlain’s “Peace in Out Time” folly. IMHO, this “action” exposes the Russian dictator and his followers for what they are … thugs and barbarians right out of the Middle Ages. And — likewise — it shows the West that we cannot trust the Russian’s word. THAT reminder is the good fallout from what’s happening. Sadly, for the Ukrainians, they are paying too heavy a price for this learning point. Sorry to Russian non-belligerent’s but … DO SOMETHING about PooTin! THEN we’ll brand ya’ll a good guy.

      Those of us who never experienced 1930’s Hitler are suddenly getting a rude awakening to what it must have been like … and in the 2020’s no less 🙁 . Those of us who served in SAC are likewise being reminded of why, as well.

  4. Let me point out the obvious problem here. The pilots are working the from the wrong end of the stick (EASA). They should club together and sign a petition DEMANDING that Putin END THE WAR IMMEDIATELY. Send the petition postpaid to V. Putin C/O the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia. Each petitioner should be sure to include their residential address to ensure swift and decisive action from the Kremlin.

  5. I gotta agree with the consensus here. If you carry a Russian Passport, then you ARE aligned with Putin. Either work to get rid of Putin, or request asylum somewhere, or whatever. Just don’t complain you are caught up in a war your country started just because you can’t fly. This war is going to cause starvation around the globe, and upset most everyone’s lives. Your country started it. Take some responsibility.

  6. Putin, the “ill-informed “ leader of 145 million Russians is murdering Ukrainians and destroying Ukraine’s infrastructure, a country of 45 million, and threatening with nuclear attacks on all NATO alliance states with a total population of 947 million people. Hey! A billion people are subject to Putin’s dementia and that of some retards here in the USA, and the media worries about one Russian pilot who can’t fly as it is now?

  7. The Russian regime targets any person with a differing opinion, even if only they are holding a blanco piece of paper on Red Square or just ask questions in a sensible way but using the wrong words like war or invasion or body bags in Belarus. The only way to stop it is to make ‘ordinary’ people realise the effects (putting it very mildly) the Kremlin policies are having on tens of millions of citizens of countries outside of Russia. If this pilot is publicly anti-Kremlin policies he/she will most likely be without a passport by the time they apply for a renewal. So this discussion has an expiration date….

  8. Very interesting discussion and comments.

    I’m thinking how quick the articles 21 and 51 to 54 of the Charter of fundamental rights of the EU will be completely abandoned and “wrong” nationals in Europe will be banned again to access certain professions or even exercise certain rights?

    You are right, Russia as a state and as its leadership and highly likely as a majority of its citizens made horrible things to Ukraine and to the World. No doubt, it is a monstrous disaster and unbelievable losses of innocent lives. And the civilized world shall react appropriately and proportionally.

    However, from the legal perspective, if we accept this regulation in the current wording (that is actually banned even young Student Pilots to start their airman career just due to a simple fact of their birth acquired citizenship), are we well in line with the rule of law principle?

    FAA did right thing when swiftly corrected the NOTAM from 3rd of March and the amendment was pushed by very fast and strong reaction of the US Pilots Community.
    Why EASA didn’t update it the same way remains a big mystery. Maybe Pilots Community is weak in Europe? Or (while reading some comments) doesn’t exist at all?
    How quick we through away our friends, colleagues, crew members and club fellows? I don’t like it as it isn’t right…

    The intention of original FAA NOTAM and EC regulation is to ban economically Russian private jet owners and Russian professional aviation structures and businesses. And NOT pilots.
    Even with the current EC regulation Russian nationals that are professional pilots in non-Russian Operators and Airlines are excluded from any restrictions in case they hold EASA PART-FCL ATPL certification. Russians are in the EU airspace controlling big equipment now, as we speak.

    So, why General Aviation pilots and even student pilots that are willing to become an airman got that disproportionate ban? Is it yet another fact that when EASA rules it always forgets about GA as a vital primer for the Aviation as an industry?!

    I wish and I strongly believe that EASA and EC will review this regulation regardless of any political situation as it was simply written against European fundamental human rights legislation that protects each and every national and every one of us here from blanket discrimination.

    CAVOK 2 All!