Two people were killed yesterday in a light plane crash in the northern Galilee yesterday. The initial investigation indicates that the crash occurred as the pilot attempted an emergency landing in open space near the village of Tuba-Zangaria after losing the plane’s single engine mid-flight. The plane ignited after crashing and only after firefighters had extinguished the blaze could a doctor determine that both passengers were dead.
The single-engine Cessna 182 took off in the morning from Herzliya airport. About 4 kilometers from the Rosh Pina airport, the pilot contacted the control tower to report an engine malfunction. He crashed about 3 kilometers south of the airfield.
Dov Levanon, who was killed along with Hagai Ariel, was well known in aviation circles. “He was a veteran pilot and big-hearted volunteer,” a friend said yesterday.
Levanon was a volunteer pilot with Squadron 10, a group of private pilots who volunteer to fly children with disabilities. The friend also said Levanon was an instructor in various flight schools.
The Transportation Ministry’s chief aviation accident investigator appointed a team to investigate the incident. The team, headed by deputy accident investigator Uri Dayan, will focus on the cause of the engine malfunction, including what routine maintenance was carried out at the Herzliya airport.
The pilot’s performance from the moment the engine trouble was discovered until the loss of the engine, will also investigated. Officials will try to determine if pilot error was involved, although it is difficult to identify rocky ground from above.
Rescue personnel on the scene told Haaretz it had been difficult to reach the crash site, where firefighters were still battling flames.
Several similar incidents have occurred in Israel in the past year. In August 2010, two people were killed when an ultralight aircraft crashed in an open field in central Israel. The pair took off from Rishon Letzion with plans to return to that airfield, however the plane crashed about 200 meters shy of a landing strip at Kvutzat Shiller, near Rehovot.
About a month earlier, an ultralight pilot was injured in a crash landing near Beit Guvrin. He was treated by rescue personnel at the scene and evacuated to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.
In October 2010, a light plane hit a large bird − a stork or a pelican − cracking the plane’s canopy and windshield. Two brothers in the plane were injured by glass shards but landed the craft safely. That plane also took off from Herzliya.
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