Pilot, Passenger Injured When Ultralight Hits Power Line

A pilot and his passenger were injured yesterday when their ultralight plane crashed near Moshav Lachish, in the south.

The initial investigation found the plane was flying at a lower altitude than usually permitted, police said. Its wheels got caught in a high-voltage power line, and both people fell out of the plane. They were airlifted to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva.

This was the second ultralight crash in a week. Last Friday, an ultralight crashed into a tree in the yard of a Nes Tziona home, seriously injuring the pilot and lightly injuring a passenger. No one on the ground was injured.

The plane in yesterday's crash was a trike, where the passenger sits behind the pilot. The plane has three wheels and a triangular fabric wing above the cockpit. This model is normally used for very short flights.

There has been an increase in ultralight accidents in Israel lately, which led to a special investigative report and the grounding of all ultralight aircrafts for a week in mid-February. During that week, the Israeli Ultralight Association held several safety conferences for its members.

The planes were grounded due to the harsh findings of the report, authored by the Transportation Ministry's chief aviation accidents investigator, Yitzhak Raz. He found a lack of supervision, and that planes were not being properly maintained.

"The obvious, persistent increase in the number of accidents, alongside the slackening reporting of accidents, are dangerous phenomena that lead to poor standards among pilots," Raz wrote.

The report referred in particular to a December 2008 accident, when an ultralight crashed in Rishon Letzion. The plane was severly damaged, but pilot and passenger escaped with slight injuries. In September 2007, an ultralight pilot was killed when his plane crashed in a field near Binyamina.

In early May, the Civil Aviation Authority grounded all late-model ultralight planes, which weigh more than older models. These newer models constitute more than half of Israel's 175 ultralight aircrafts.