Ukraine Crisis: Is Russian Aircraft Ignoring Airspace Prohibition Orders Adding Fuel To The Fire?

Anna Zvereva, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – With news of Aeroflot’s Airbus A350s ignoring a Canadian airspace prohibition order, is this adding fuel to the fire on the Russian side?

VQ-BFY, the A350 in question, operated SU111 and proceeded to ignore the order of operating over Canada’s territorial waters.

Transport Canada commented on this violation that took place saying:

“We are aware that Aeroflot flight 111 violated the prohibition put in place earlier today on Russian flights using Canadian airspace”.

“We are launching a review of the conduct of Aeroflot and the independent air navigation service provider, NAVCAN, leading up to this violation.”

“We will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action and other measures to prevent future violations.”

According to data from, SU111 departed Miami International Airport yesterday at 1513 local time, before arriving in Moscow at 0952 local time the next day.

As you can see on the image above, you can see where and from what direction VQ-BFY actually infringed on the airspace and territorial waters.

Since its arrival in Moscow, the aircraft (at the time of writing) is currently en route to Yerevan to support the airline’s very limited route network due to continued airspace closures resulting in aircraft stranded, including VP-BOE, one of the airline’s Airbus A321s.

Did Aeroflot Do This Deliberately?

With the Russian government owning a 51% stake in the carrier, there are questions surrounding whether Aeroflot committed this airspace prohibition violation deliberately.

Around 2 pm yesterday local time, the Canadian government announced the closure of its airspace to all Russian aircraft.

Based on the data provided by RadarBox, VQ-BFY infringed the airspace just after 11 pm UTC near Montreal, meaning it would have been around 6 pm local time and 3 pm as far west as Vancouver.

SU159 also did the same thing on its Cancun-Moscow rotation, which adds fuel to the fire more on the Canadian transport authorities as well.

It entered Canadian waters at around 0245 UTC, making it the second infringement that came about yesterday.

So this does represent an infringement, but the aircraft would have been in the air once this closure was announced.

That being said, the aircraft could have returned to the U.S, as the Biden Administration is still considering an airspace closure.

However, if the aircraft returned to the U.S and Biden shut its airspace, it would have kept the aircraft stranded in the area.

Therefore, such an act was deliberate, but probably more in the interest of making sure the aircraft returned to Russia so it could continue to operate on the limited network options the airline has left.

Will This Add Fuel to the Fire Politically? What lessons can be learnt from this?

As it stands, the Canadians have said they will seek enforcement on this issue, but for other respective governments, the events haven’t really caught on.

For Canadian-Russian tensions, this will add fuel to the fire, but on a global scale, it only depends on whether this is happening more in Europe, which it isn’t at this present time.

However, there will be calls for Biden to make a decision on the U.S airspace closure, as this will prevent further incursions from happening in the future.

There will be some fuel added to the fire on the side of the Canadian transport authorities as after the first aircraft infringed, there would have been some thoughts to bolster up the Canadian air defenses to ensure the Cancun flight never entered the airspace.

But on the Russian side, once they knew that the first aircraft got through with no hitches, they definitely took the decision to send that second Aeroflot through from a Canadian weakness point of view.

Either way, there are lessons to be learned from this, especially with the Canadians needing to be a bit stronger on future infringements otherwise this will be a case study in how the Russians could walk over airspace and not come out unscathed.

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