Home By Marquel The Paper Plane Fleet

The Paper Plane Fleet

Marquel, TPVs NYTimes Aeronautics Section correspondent, was watching paper planes fighting gravity outside the Empire State Building, when he read that Iran’s Aging Airliner Fleet Is Faltering Under U.S. Sanctions.  Iranians say that sanctions have barred the country from updating its jetliners and left them to patch up planes that are too old to fly. Marquel knows middle east and east Asian airlines. Sanctions or not, they do all right with Airbus or Boeing. But then in an old Aeroflot craft, it’s an accident waiting for a skyscraper.

But Iran isn’t even flying Aeroflot which used to make about ten safe landings for each of the other kind. No, these planes are…Ukrainian!!! Marquel knows Ukraine. They’re good with little things or machines that make one product but the idea of a Ukrainian airplane is pretty much the same as a medical pacemaker manufactured by boko harum. Where would the idea even come from? What would make Ukrainians think they were an aeronautics powerhouse? The Russians! The Russians licensed one of their early Aeroflot for the Ukrainians. This plane is so old, the original pilots were the Weight Brothers. Then the Ukrainians licensed it to Iran, which can’t even buy aeronautical quality aluminum and titanium. I went to speak to some Iranian experts.

“Aren’t you embarrassed or at least afraid to be flying Ukrainian planes?” I asked.
“That feeling we don’t have often as Iranians,” he said. “But I don’t fly on those planes.
“But you certify it to others?” I asked.
“Only that it meets the specifications, not that it is airworthy.” He said.
“You think it’s not?” I asked.
“I’m not sure. In the aluminum and titanium depots there are large opened tomato cans from Italy. I’m afraid they are making the wings and landing gear from that. They should call it San Marzano Airlines. The cabin smells like basil.”
“How much longer will they be flying these tomatoes?” I asked.
Another year, I think,” he said, “they had 130 aircraft. Now they have 97. They told me they will fly them until the last one can’t.”
“But why don’t they fly?” I asked, “Aeroflot never had the best safety record but usually you got where you were going.”
“So do these,” he said. “They don’t fall out of the sky. When they’re on approach for landing, they suddenly veer into the nearest skyscraper.”
“Sounds like pilot error,” I offered.
“That may be oversimplifying,”  He said, ” did you know that each plane has two pilots?”
“That sounds safe.” I said.
” Not if you realize that neither pilot is a full fledged pilot. After we bought these planes at a discount, they tried to save more money. Why have a fully trained expensive pilot they asked? Why not do what the terrorists do. Have one pilot who knows how to take off, another one for landing. That was really shortsighted.”
“And the crashing into skyscrapers?” I asked.
“We’ve been trying to keep them in skyscraper free environments. But eventually they go over a city and end up swooping down. One less plane.”
BY MARQUEL: The Paper Plane Fleet