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The Israel Airports Authority has allocated unprecedented funding of approximately NIS 9.5 million for a training program for flight controllers, to be based on the training programs of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the Israel Airports Authority said Friday.

The FAA last month downgraded Israel's aviation safety standing to Category 2.

According to the chairman of the board of directors of the Israel Airports Authority, Ovadia Eli, the program will include improvements in simulator training, which is carried out in Canada, as well as computerized refresher courses for operational competency.

The FAA will train Israeli flight-control unit heads, shift leaders and quality control managers.

Next month, all Israel Airport Authority flight controllers and operations specialists will undergo a quality assurance seminar in safety systems to implement comprehensive changes in the organization's flight-safety culture.

Eli also said the Israel Airports Authority would be investing NIS 3.7 billion in the coming years in upgrading safety, security and infrastructure at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

In another innovation, team resource management seminars for flight controllers will be conducted on an ongoing basis, as was recommended by a committee of inquiry into safety incidents in 2007.

The airports authority will also conduct on-the-job training for flight controllers at their work stations based on FAA training principles and will compile a book of flight-control procedures that will be given to the Civil Aviation Authority for approval.

According to Eli, the program to be initiated this year means that "the Israel Airports Authority has embarked on a new road in the realm of flight-control training."

He also said: "The main task before the authority is to upgrade safety in Israeli air space by massive investment in this area."