TV probe of Israir near-crash axed

Pilots were allegedly instructed to change their stories of the incident.

israair plane 88 (photo credit: )
israair plane 88
(photo credit: )
A prestigious investigative TV show decided Wednesday to hold a story probing Israir's role in a near-crash this summer at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport after being advised to do so by its legal counsels. Uvda, hosted by reporter Ilana Dayan and broadcast on Channel 2, had been set to air a piece exploring a July incident in which an Israir plane taxied across an active runway while an Airborne Express cargo craft was taking off. The cargo craft just missed crashing into the 200-plus passenger jet. There have been reports of Israir pilots allegedly being told to change their stories in order to hush up the affair, and that a top airline official has been relieved of his duties for his role in the incident, which has been under investigation. The controversy has come in the midst of the Transportation Ministry's mulling over whether to break El Al's monopoly on scheduled routes between New York and Tel Aviv by giving Israir a regular New York-Tel Aviv run. Until now, Israir has only flown charter flights between the two cities. Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson is due to give his decision shortly. Israir sent a two-page letter to Keshet, one of the franchisees that produces programming for Channel 2, expressing concerns about the program and asking why it was scheduled to air so close to the Transportation Ministry's decision, according to an Israir spokeswoman. In an official statement, Keshet explained the decision to delay the piece by two weeks as coming at the recommendation of the company's legal counsel "in order to prevent any complaint and to prove good faith above and beyond any doubt over the alleged involvement of Keshet in the decision on the operation of the regular line to New York by Israir."