Study: Infrastructure Neglect at Ben Gurion Poses Safety Risk

Report urges installing equipment for automated landing in all runways, building new control towers.

A report over the investigation into the near collision of two airplanes at Ben Gurion Airport on February 8 revealed serious safety violations and antiquated equipment at the airport as the result of neglected infrastructure.

According to report, although a great deal of money was invested in the construction of a new terminal, no funds went towards improving the runways and control tower, and only one of the airport's three runways is equipped for automated landing.

In addition, the physical conditions at the airport make it difficult for the control tower to rectify the flight paths of planes flying to close to each other.

The report recommends installing equipment for automated landing in all the runways and building a new control tower or renovating the old one, as well as reconsidering its location.

Another failing uncovered by the report is the reliance on air traffic controllers' that are Israel Air Force graduates. According to the report, such air traffic controllers lack the necessary standards and thought processes.

The report's author, air accident investigator Yitzhak Raz, wrote that the incident on Febuary "isn't an isolated one-time event, but a random event that can be grouped with a series of events that are mostly the result of the conditions at Ben Gurion Airport and the restrictions placed on the relevant authorities.

The report also includes a description of events of the Febuary 8 incident. The report places most of the responsibility for the incident on the Spanish pilots, but states that spatial restrictions of the airport, and communications problems between the pilots and the control tower.

Raz recommended that the airport hire a team from the U.S. Federal Aviation Association to plan a renovation of the airport's infrastructure, and make the necessary modification ahead of the expected increase in air traffic.