Air passengers in danger, Lindenstrauss warns

Last week, Israel failed again to meet the requirements to upgrade its US Federal Aviation Authority safety ranking from category 1 to 2.

Micha Lindenstrauss 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Micha Lindenstrauss 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The state has not done enough to implement the recommendations of the Lapidot Committee to improve aviation safety and the existing situation puts people’s lives at risk, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said in a report published on Monday.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Lapidot headed the Public Committee to Examine Civil Aviation Safety, which issued its recommendations in August 2007.
The State Comptroller’s Office has been investigating the nation’s aviation safety mechanisms for two years. The 56-page document is the result of a thorough study of all the mechanisms in place and all the government agencies involved.
The state failed to implement 46 out of 75 recommendations made by the Lapidot Committee, according to the report.
“Failure to fully implement so many recommendations teaches us that the agencies involved, namely the Civil Aviation Authority, the Israel Aviation Authority, and the Ministry of Transportation, have not completed fixing the safety deficiencies presented in the Lapidot Committee’s report,” the report’s summary reads. “The agencies did not do enough to ensure aviation safety in Israel.”
Out of six categories of recommendations mentioned in the Lapidot Report, the State Comptroller’s Office determined that only the chapter dealing with pirate radio broadcasts was fully addressed.
Implementation was found insufficient in the areas of the operations of the Civil Aviation Authority, equipment and infrastructure development at Ben-Gurion Airport, aviation incident and accident investigations, flight control and airspace.
Lindenstrauss urged the regulators “to work without delay to complete the implementation of all the Lapidot Committee recommendations.”
Last week, Israel, for the second year in a row, failed to meet the requirements necessary to upgrade its US Federal Aviation Authority safety ranking, after having dropped from category 1 to 2 in 2008.
Lindenstrauss noted the failure in his report and stated that Israel’s failure harmed the nation’s airlines and economy, and its reputation in the eyes of the world.
“Despite Israel’s commitment to operate according to international standards as a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Federal Aviation Authority found severe deficiencies in the CIA’s [Civil Aviation Authority’s] supervision of aviation safety,” read the report, adding that lack of ministerial support was one of the reasons for the deficiencies and that as long as the government’s attitude didn’t shift dramatically the Federal Aviation Authority would continue to limit Israeli airlines’ ability to develop. As long as Israel has a Category 2 rating, its airlines are not allowed to establish new service to the United States.
Lindenstrauss’s report also criticized the Knesset for failing to pass a new Aviation Law that would modernize the aviation regulations, replacing a law that was enacted in 1927.
Amendments to the law have been placed before the Knesset since 1996, but the law has yet to be updated.
The comptroller also looked into the investigation of accidents, reporting some 180 accidents from 2005 to 2009, most of them involving light aircraft.
In addition, thousands of incidents, or “close calls,” took place; 131 of them were defined by the report as serious.
According to the comptroller’s examination, only a small percentage of the recommendations issued by the chief investigator following those incidents have been implemented.
The Israel Aviation Authority said, “All the recommendations which could have been implemented under a short timetable have been implemented, while the recommendations whose implementation is more complicated are in the process of being implemented.
“The IAA council has approved a sum of NIS 2.7 billion for the implementation of the recommendations, and the IAA is meeting the planned timetable for implementation,” read the response.
The Transportation Ministry said in response that “the ministry will implement all the required lessons and has already begun fixing the faults mentioned in the report.
“The ministry’s director-general regularly follows the processes under way to remedy the situation by all of the relevant bodies.”