The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's expected downgrade of Israel's air safety rating is liable to have serious repercussions for the local aviation industry, the National Pilots Association warned on Monday.
An FAA delegation visited Israel last week and will publish its official decision shortly. It is reportedly planning to downgrade Israel's safety rating from Category 1 to Category 2 - meaning from first-world to third-world standards.
Israeli officials have been trying frantically to persuade the FAA to alter this decision, but are yet to succeed.
Pilots Association Chairman Capt. Boaz Hativa warned that a downgrade would hurt the entire industry - "the airlines, the traveling public, companies that manufacture planes and avionics, and of course also the pilots and [other] airline employees."
He said the Transportation Ministry was responsible for the expected downgrade.
"The Pilots Association has complete confidence in the new management of the Civil Aviation Authority, headed by Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Rom, and we are convinced it will know how to fix the problems quickly and get our rating upgraded again," he said.
Ministry spokesman Avner Ovadia insisted that all the issues raised by the FAA are already being addressed. The Civil Aviation Authority's management has been replaced, he noted, and "we are in the midst of hiring quality personnel who will enable us to increase the level of supervision."
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