A technical malfunction involving a clutch near the tail rotor of a crop-dusting helicopter was the reason for a near-accident at Herzliya Airport in October, according to a Transportation Ministry report released Sunday.

Signs of a similar technical failure were found on another crop duster, indicating the possibility of a larger failure in aircraft maintenance and oversight.

"The maintenance and testing systems are not geared toward identifying the mechanism of malfunction," the ministry's chief investigator, Itzhak Raz, wrote in the report.

The report recommends testing the faulty clutch after 300 hours of flight time and monitoring the frequent testing the helicopter is supposed to undergo.

Raz praised the pilot of the Bell 47 Tomcat for landing the two-bladed, single-engine light helicopter without incident after it began twisting sharply rightward at a critical juncture just before takeoff.

The pilot's conduct, he wrote, was "purposeful, professional and praiseworthy."