An Israel Air Force cadet suffered light injuries yesterday after ejecting from the cockpit of her Efroni single-engined turboprop aircraft during landing.
The cadet, in the advanced stages of pilot training, took off on her first solo flight from the Hatzerim air force base in the Negev yesterday morning. After successfully completing the flight course, the cadet noticed the plane began to swerve off the runway during landing. She pulled the eject lever and launched her parachute. She was rushed to Soroka Medical Center, Be'er Sheva, and was treated for spinal injuries.
IAF officials said the cadet acted according to emergency procedure. The aircraft was on the ground when the cadet ejected and it stopped shortly afterward, incurring extensive damage but is likely to be returned to service after repairs.
The Efroni is a U.S.-manufactured Beechcraft T-6 Texan II aircraft used for pilot training. It was introduced into the IAF's prestigious pilot cadets' course last year. It replaced the Fouga Magister, a French two-seat jet trainer, which was retired from IAF service after decades of use.
The Efroni is considered an upgrade over the Fouga Magister precisely because it features an ejection seat that allows pilots to abandon the aircraft during emergencies. Two years ago, Captain Matan Asa, 25, and Cadet Carmi Elan, 19, were killed when their Fouga Magister crashed in the Negev during a training flight.
Yesterday's accident was the first major incident here involving the Efroni.