Recreational Pilots Group Blasts Aviation Safety Lapses

Serious negligence on the part of the Civil Aviation Authority has caused a spate of serious accidents and is endangering lives, the recreational aircraft organization Aero Club of Israel charged yesterday.

In a scathing letter to Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, club chairman Abraham Kimchi, complained that the recent series of accidents and near misses at and near Ben Gurion International Airport were caused due to inaction and mismanagement by the CAA.

"Civil aviation in Israel is in a long and deep decline, mostly due to its bad functioning and leadership," Kimchi wrote. "The Civil Aviation Authority is not doing enough to support and administer civil aviation. We must say that the authority is perceived by the public as an ailing organization and that those who value their lives know well to keep away from it."

CAA director Udi Zohar, resigned last month in the wake of a number of incidents relating to air safety. In order to rectify the alleged anarchy within the authority, Kimchi recommended to Mofaz that Yitzhak Raz, the current chief investigator in the Transportation Minister, be appointed to replace Zohar. Kimchi also advocated increasing the number of supervisors, which he claimed were dangerously few. Also, he said supervisors are not adequately paid and as a result are not motivated.

"The current situation is leading to immediate danger and the Transportation Ministry, which is entrusted with air safety, must take broad action to stop the decline," Kimchi wrote. "Ministerial responsibility is in the hands of the ministry and it is required to act without delay, otherwise an interim period may lead to tragedy."