Private Firefighting Squadron?

A group of Israeli businessmen is considering establishing a private squadron of firefighting planes. The group plans on using the planes in Israel.

Such an initiative was raised in 1999, but bureaucratic barriers and delays killed it, said Ofer Doron, a lawyer who represented the group back then. Doron conducted negotiations with the state, Bank Hapoalim and the Italian government at the time.

The plan is for the group to buy firefighting planes and operate them for the state, private companies and others - in return for an annual payment.

The Israeli representative of the Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier is involved in the initiative.

Doron said that in 1999, the Civil Aviation Authority refused to approve the planes and the state was not all that interested. Consequently, the plans were shelved. "Now, in light of what happened, we are reorganizing," he said.