Air Force Missing Targets in Reporting Mishaps

Report states that 'there is no joint investigation system for civil aviation and the air force, which could produce conclusions and recommendations that would promote safety.'

A call for a joint investigative system comes in a Civil Aviation Authority report to be published this week, which finds the Israel Air Force was at fault in 54 percent of the 114 safety-related aviation incidents in Israel last year involving both civilian and military aircraft. The total number of safety-related aviation incidents in 2010 was 827, with 10 involving foreign airlines.

The report states that "in the investigation and examination of safety-related incidents, and particularly regarding cases of moderate severity and serious incidents, there is no joint investigation system for civil aviation and the air force, investigative work that could produce conclusions and recommendations that would promote safety."

The report describes 27 of the incidents involving both civilian and military craft as either serious or moderately severe; it takes the air force to task for failing to provide the results of its internal investigations.

Civilian aviation authorities published reports on eight incidents and conducted investigations of another 30 cases involving civilian and military aircraft. The report devotes a special section to the joint use of Israel's airspace by civilian and military aircraft.

Among the worrying statistics in the report is that 19 percent of what were defined as air traffic "incidents" at Ben-Gurion International Airport involved Israel Air Force planes. Three cases at the airport involved fighter planes that strayed into civilian airspace, seven involved military helicopters and another six involved unmanned or drone aircraft. There were also incidents involving military aircraft at the Rosh Pina airfield in the north and around the Herzliya airfield just north of Tel Aviv, mostly involving IAF helicopters.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesman said in response: "The report was received Monday by the air force. The data will be studied and the necessary conclusions drawn. It was recently decided that the air force and the Civil Aviation Authority would set up a joint investigation system for aviation safety incidents. The system will include experts and representatives from both entities, who will meet, investigate and draw joint conclusions from safety incidents. It should be noted that all safety incidents in the air force are investigated and studied so they do not recur in the future."

An analysis of all of the safety-related cases that faulted the air force shows that half of them involved pilot error; 20 percent involved air traffic supervisors; 16 percent lower-level air traffic controllers; and 10 percent faulty administration and planning for the flights.