Arkia airplane 370.
(photo credit: reuters)
The government authorities responsible for monitoring the production and
maintenance of jet fuel have failed to do so properly in recent years, thereby
causing a major threat to aviation safety, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira said
in his report on Wednesday.
A section of the report looked at the steps
taken to ensure the quality and stability of aircraft jet fuel supplied at
Ben-Gurion Airport. It examined the relevant activities of five government and
independent bodies – the Energy and Water Ministry’s Fuel Administration, the
Israel Airports Authority, the Transportation Ministry, the Civil Aviation
Authority and the company Energy and Petroleum Infrastructures
Overall, the state comptroller found a lack of coordination that has
led to a lag in proper monitoring of jet fuel production, storage and
Following a 1988 reform in the fuel sector, the number of private
companies engaged in producing, importing, storing and transporting jet fuel
From July 2011 through November 2012, the State Comptroller’s
Office examined, in intermittent phases, the activities of the companies to
ensure the quality of jet fuel and to implement the recommendations of various
committees and teams that had been established following incidents of jet fuel
In 1997, the government directed the energy minister to
submit a bill regulating the fuel and energy sector to ensure fuel supply
reliability, availability, continuity, quality and efficiency. The goal was also
to create competitive conditions and decreased supervision on the fuel sector
from the Energy Ministry.
Only in March 2012, after 15 years had passed
and during the state comptroller’s audit, did the Ministerial Committee for
Legislation approve the bill for the fuel sector.
In July 2012 it passed
its first reading in the Knesset plenary.
The bill will be discussed for
approval at the next Knesset session, the Energy and Water Ministry
An Israeli standard for jet fuel only became official and binding
in October 2010, and the regulation does not require checking for certain
substances that are likely to harm quality. This inadequacy became particularly
apparent during filtration tests that occurred in May 2011 after contaminated
fuel was discovered at Ben-Gurion Airport – revealing the harmful presence of
substances such as carbonized material, metals, sand and a rust-like substance –
the report said.
Beginning in 2000, and including the incident in May
2011, there were several events in which the jet fuel supply was
Following most of these events investigative committees
emerged to identify deficiencies and make recommendations, the state comptroller
Despite the fact that many of the same recommendations were
made in multiple committees, the brunt of the problems still had not been
corrected by the end of the state comptroller audit process.
treatment of the jet fuel sector requires the establishment of a central body
that will direct regulation and integration of security operations and will have
the appropriate authority and tools for monitoring, enforcing and coordinating
between entities operating within it,” the report concluded.
comptroller noted that the Energy and Water Ministry has failed to fulfill its
duty to specifically outline policies to ensure a steady supply of jet fuel with
the required quality and monitoring procedures.
All of the relevant
bodies must come together and “act decisively and without delay to ensure that
the recommendations of the inquiry committees will be implemented and to correct
the deficiencies that the state comptroller raised in this report,” the audit
The report specifically pinpointed the lack of coordination
among the relevant authorities responsible for fuel monitoring, an issue that
places all passengers at risk.
“These are safety concerns of the first
order, and therefore it is necessary to address full attention in order to
prevent a flight safety disaster and serious damage to the airport and its
property, Israel’s economy and its image,” the report said.
to the audit, the Energy and Water Ministry said that over the years, all events
regarding fuel that have been reported to the ministry have always been treated
in a professional, effective and comprehensive manner. It is the responsibility
of the ministry to oversee fuel quality standards as well as procedures for
maintenance and operation of transportation systems, the ministry said.
portion of the review committee’s conclusions following the May 2011 incident
involved making maintenance standards binding, doing research on the effect of
jet fuel additives and further investigation into the current testing
mechanisms. All of this is now being done, the ministry asserted.
addition, the state comptroller makes clear the importance of continuing to
promote the bill for regulating the fuel industry.