Herzliya Airfield an 'Accident Waiting to Happen'

Herzliya Airport is the most crowded, has the shortest, narrowest runway in the country, and is unsuitable for flight training, expert opinion says.

Herzliya Airport is the most crowded, has the shortest, narrowest runway in the country, is unsuitable for flight training and is especially dangerous should an accident happen, according to an expert opinion recently submitted to the High Court of Justice.

The opinion had been sought by three cities petitioning the court to relocate the airport, one of the main civilian flight-training centers, to another location.

Planes on the tarmac at Herzliya Airport
Tal Cohen

"The [airport's] excessive crowding, deficient infrastructure and proximity to populated areas pose increased risk in case of an aircraft accident," Gal Peleg reports in his opinion. The airport's deficient safety requires immediate treatment, he writes in his report.

"Israel is one of the last states in the Western world in which the law does not condition operating an aircraft on having adequate insurance," he writes.

Since a considerable number of Israel's private airplanes operate regularly from Herzliya airport, the residents of the nearby towns and communities are in increased danger and exposed to property damage or injuries - in case of an aviation accident - that are not covered by suitable insurance," the opinion says.

Peleg also says most insurance policies do not cover bodily harm and property damage caused to pilots or other crew members involved. The sums paid out in these cases are absurdly low and do not come close to covering the potential damage an aircraft could cause in an accident, he says.

The document lists risk factors in Herzliya Airport's operation. "The safety situation in the airfield demonstrates the deterioration of flight safety for years ... the airfield and its surroundings have insufficient ground and air space, the infrastructures are faulty, procedures are deficient and there is no short- or long-term planning. All these are not simple even for experienced pilots to deal with, not to mention flight cadets - inexperienced pilots who are the field's main users," writes Peleg.

Among the dangers posed by the airfield, the report cites, is its single short runway, which is 903 meters long and 18 meters wide. It says the shortness of the runway and its closeness to residential areas means that aircraft are unable to gain sufficient height to clear ground structures by an adequately safe margin.