Mofaz Adopts Findings of Report on B-G Airport Flight Safety Failures

Report, compiled by commission charged with examining safety at Ben Gurion International Airport, recommends airport upgrade.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz announced Monday that he has adopted the recommendations of the Lapidot Commission report on aviation safety failures in Israel, and convened a "safety in flight" forum at Ben Gurion International Airport to discuss the report's findings.

During the forum's discussion, Mofaz instructed Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Director Udi Zohar and the newly appointed Director General of the Israel Airports Authority Kobi Mor "to move forward as quickly as possible" in implementing the recommendations of the report, especially the appointment of new supervisory posts within the CAA.

The minister also stressed the importance of installing advanced technological mechanisms, such as devices designed to navigate the automatic take offs and landings at Ben Gurion International Airport runways.

"Safety in Flight" is a new forum, headed by Mofaz and Transportation Ministry Director General Gideon Sitterman, includes leaders in the aviation sector, former and current Israel Air Force officials and an the head investigator of aviation accidents.

The Lapidot report concluded that "there is an urgent need to upgrade the flight system at Ben Gurion" and outlined the failures that must be remedied.

The report found that "cutting-edge technology that could have facilitated flight procedures at Ben Gurion International Airport was not implemented." Another issue that the report pointed out was the fact that "a wave of foreign pilots, trained largely on simulators, are flying into Israel and finding it very difficult to adapt to the 'Israeli methods' and to navigate within the massive limitations in the circling and landing procedures at Ben Gurion International Airport."

The commission also found that "there is an urgent and vital need to install the ILS landing device (an auxiliary mechanism designed to assist in aircraft's automatic landing devices) on runway 30. The absence of this mechanism has already caused many severe safety malfunctions, which by some miracle hasn't ended in disaster thus far."

In addition, the report revealed that "the height of the control tower at Ben Gurion does not comply with the requisite safety protocols." It added that there was not enough room in the tower for the required number of supervisors, and that it was not an adequate work environment. Moreover, the view from the upper part of the tower is partially obstructed and does not allow for proper scanning of the airport, the report said. The commission recommended the construction of a new control tower.

The Lapidot Commission also concluded that "the complex task of upgrading the airport, in every aspect, cannot be completed by the existing Israel Airports Authority offices. The commission strongly recommends the immediate appointment of an 'administration' headed by a senior director specifically for this project. This administration would be responsible for the entire project and all its components."

The Israel Airports Authority responded to the report, saying that the organization was "pooling its resources in efforts to step up safety."