Air Control Error Causes Near Crash

The Israel Airports Authority has set up a committee to investigate the near mid-air collision Friday between a Turkish Airlines jet and an Israir prop lane.

The incident Friday morning, was reported to the Transport Ministry and the the chief air accident investigator, Yitzhak Raz.

Initial evidence suggests the Israir aircraft, carrying four pilots on a training mission, flew in the area near Ben-Gurion International airport. When the pilots requested permission to land on the main runway, they were authorized to do so, and the aircraft began its descent.

The air traffic controller then realized that he had authorized the landing into the path of another landing aircraft, and immediately ordered the Israir aircraft to turn westward and climb to 30,000 feet.

The Israir pilots began their climb, at which time they realized they were in the path of a landing Turkish Airlines jet carrying 170 passengers. Warning equipment on the ATR signaled that the aircraft was on a collision course with the incoming jet.

By the time the air traffic controller messaged the Israir pilots, they had made visual contact with the Turkish plane, and took evasive action, passing it at a distance of 1,500 meters, but at the same altitude.

An aviation expert told Haaretz "this is a dangerously close margin, which could have ended up causing an air disaster."

The Airports Authority issued a statement saying that the Israir training flight was directed by an air traffic controller to land, and into the path of a landing Turkish airlines aircraft. "The required standard distance was not kept," the statement reads, noting that the "traffic controller made an error in judgment."