Mandate-era Aviation Law revamped

Legislation will hopefully raise Israel’s safety ranking

EL AL Plane 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
EL AL Plane 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Over 80 years after it was first enacted, Israel’s archaic Mandate-era civil aviation law was retired Wednesday, when the Knesset passed a massive new law designed to suit the challenges of modern aviation.
The Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee had held marathon sessions on the bill, under the leadership of MK Yitzhak Vaknin. Legislators expressed optimism Wednesday that the law would go far toward improving Israel’s poor air safety rating granted by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Sponsors say that the law creates an effective legal basis for regulating civil aviation, replacing the law drafted in 1927 under British Mandate.
Civil Aviation Authority Director Giora Rom had said at the conclusion of committee hearings on the bill that the bill’s passage continued a “historic moment” for Israeli aviation.
The Economic Affairs Committee held 35 meetings to prepare the bill, totaling almost 100 hours of debate – without counting the additional conferences on the bill held outside of the committee room.
The final version of the law, which is structured in 13 chapter and includes more than 180 clauses, will result in wide scale restructuring of the country’s civil aviation sector, dealing with everything from military flights and commercial airlines to recreational hang gliders.
The law regulates for the first time the nature of relations between civil and military aviation and determines that “use of military aircraft while utilizing civil infrastructures will be done with consideration to civil aviation and subject to safety and operational needs.”
Thus, for the first time, the IAF is officially subordinate to the Aviation Law, except in cases necessary to enable the military to meet its operational goals.
All of the current investigation procedures are now finally grounded in law. Investigative materials turned over to the chief investigator will have immunity, and cannot be used as evidence in a trial. The chief investigator will also have priority in approaching a suspect immediately after a safety incident.
As a result of the legislation, the Civil Aviation Authority director will now have administrative enforcement authority – and will be able to impose monetary fines on violators of the law, or of the parallel law that governs the marketing-related aspects of civil aviation.
Amendments to the law have been placed before the Knesset since 1996, but the legislation process really began accelerating two years ago after the FAA dropped Israel’s aviation safety ranking from category 1 to category 2, which is the lowest ranking that exists and applies primarily to Third World countries.
Passing the law is considered a huge step towards regaining category 1 ranking.
Ron Friedman contributed to this report.