FAA Finds Serious Flaws in Flight Safety at Israeli Airports

Lack of civilian supervision, crowded airspace cited; findings could limit flights from Israel to U.S.

The Federal Aviation Administration of the United States uncovered severe security shortcomings during a tour of Israel's aviation security system this week.

The U.S. body plans to issue a report on its findings in 90 days that some fear could lead to cutbacks in the number of flights Israeli airlines will be allowed to make to the United States.

During a meeting with officials from the Israel Civil Aviation Authority Thursday, the FAA cited a lack of proper supervision from civilian authorities as the major problem affecting flight safety.

Among other findings, the FAA found that Ben-Gurion International Airport suffers from serious flight safety shortcomings and cited Israel's especially crowded airspace as a serious safety concern.

The FAA critique comes after a civilian committee headed by former Israel Air Force Amos Lapidot issued findings a year ago highlighting severe shortcomings in flight safety at Israeli airports.

The Lapidot public committee found that aviation safety in Israel is in a "catastrophic state."

The panel's final report criticized the infrastructure at Ben Gurion International Airport, legislation pertaining to the matter, and air traffic control systems, adding that Israel has not fully seen the technological developments of the last decades in the field of air traffic control. They called to increase supervision on air traffic control systems, and to better train the controllers, many of whom do not always speak in English or use the proper terminology.

Amos Lapidot resigned from his post as head of the committee in charge of examining flight safety two months ago, reportedly because the committee would not implement his recommendations.

Lapidot told Haaretz Thursday that "we've seen there is no supervision, work isn't done according to regulations, and the airports authority in reality does not operate. The FAA saw this as well."

A manager in charge of public relations for the Transportation Authority, Avner Ovadia, on Wednesday told Haaretz that when the full FAA report is issued in 90 days, the authority will deal with its findings.