Ben Gurion Airport Air Traffic Controllers to Blame for Near Crash

Report reveals El Al, Lufthansa passenger planes passed each other at distance of 250 meters.

A report released on Monday implicated Ben Gurion Airport air traffic controllers in a near collision between two passenger planes at the airport that occurred in late 2009.

The Israel Airports Authority reported that a landing Lufthansa passenger passed dangerously close to an El Al jetliner about to take off, adding that the two air traffic controllers implicated in the episode were both reassigned in its wake.

The report revealed that the two planes passed each other at a distance of 250 meters.

A crash between the two planes was prevented when a Traffic alert and Collision Avoidance System device (TCAS) designed to warn planes of an impending collision was activated on the El Al plane. At this point, the planes had a distance of only 200 meters between them.

An initial investigation conducted on the day of the near collision concluded that the alleged proximity between the two airliners "did not indicate a safety incident had occurred."

However, a closer inspection of the incident, which included the inspection of radar recordings as well as recordings of the communication between the pilots and the control tower, revealed that "the proximity between the planes indicated that a safety incident had occurred."

"As a result of the findings of preliminary investigation conducted right after the event, as well as of the findings of the in depth probe conducted later on, it was decided that the controllers on duty during the incident would not continue in their positions," the IAA said.