Official Report: Fatal Ultra-light Plane Crash Caused by Pilot Error

An ultra-light aircraft crash that killed a passenger in January was caused by pilot error, the official investigation found.

The pilot was seriously injured and a passenger died of his injuries two weeks after the crash.

The report states the pilot decided to land at Reshafim "without being aware of the limitations of the field, the capabilities of his aircraft and his ability to execute the mission."

Transportation Ministry investigators Uri Dayan, Gabi Ashkenazi and Prof. Sid Gasner prepared the report, which was approved by the ministry's chief accident investigator, Yitzhak Raz.

According to the report, the pilot took off at 8:30 A.M. from the grassy air strip in Reshafim, in the Beit Shean Valley. The plane glided at a low altitude for 25 meters, drifted rightward and sank back down.

The passenger who died two weeks after the crash was the former director general of Tel Hai College, Eitan Gedalizon.

After two failed take-off attempts, the aircraft struck an electric pole, losing part of its wing and damaging its landing gear and its main wheel. Fuel began spraying into the cockpit, drenching Gedalizon and causing a fire. Gedalizon was severely burned despite the pilot's attempts to extinguish the fire. He was hospitalized at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where he died from complications.

The report stated that low air speed, ground conditions and the wrong angle had compromised take-off and the pilot made a wrong decision to keep trying. This is a common error among ultra-light pilots.

The report says this accident drew attention to safety failures in the field, and lists 12 recommended steps to be taken within a year, including appointing regional supervisors to check disciplinary and safety infractions at air fields.