Panel: Aviation Safety in Israel Is Severely Neglected, May Deteriorate

Public committee finds Ben-Gurion International Airport is subject to "a series of flaws, restrictions and limitations."

A public committee appointed by Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said Wednesday that aviation safety in Israel is severely neglected, warning that the situation could deteriorate further.

"Aviation safety in Israel is in dire straights, and will further deteriorate unless action is taken immediately," the committee said.

Major-General (ret.) Amos Lapidot, who headed the committee, said that "the current situation is the result of decades-long negligence. The main problems are a dysfunctional civilian airports authority; flight regulations in Israel are outdated and irrelevant."

According to the report, "Ben-Gurion Airport is subject to a series of flaws, restrictions and limitations; the military and civilian airspaces are overcrowded and not appropriately arranged."

Lapidot warned that Israel has not fully seen the technological developments of the last decades in the field of air traffic control systems. The report also criticizes pirate radio transmissions that "severely and repetitively interfere with air traffic control system to the extent of complete anarchy."

The report recommends tackling landing and take-off issues at the airport immediately. It also calls for over-arching reforms at the Israeli Airports Authority (IAA) and for the establishment of an aviation safety monitoring organization.

Mofaz said that he adopts the recommendations and would push for their implementation in 2008. He urged the committee members to continue working as the ministry's aviation safety advisory board.

Mofaz appointed the committee in February after a severe incident at Ben-Gurion Airport, where a collision was barely averted.