Israel Prepares to Overhaul Air Safety Operations

Israel prepares a massive overhaul of its air safety operations, beginning with a budget of almost NIS 10 million to train flight controllers.

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Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 12:42

Ben Gurion International Airport
Ben Gurion International Airport
Israel News Photo: Flash 90

The State of Israel is beginning a massive overhaul of its air safety operations in the wake of a downgrade in its rating to Category 2 last month by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

The downgrade dropped Israel’s airports into the same classification as airports in Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Honduras and Bulgaria, among others. The FAA cited “severe security shortcomings in Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority” in its decision to downgrade Israel’s largest airport.

The Israel Airports Authority said in a statement Friday that it would allocate an unprecedented NIS 9.5 million toward a training program for its flight controllers as part of the rehabilitation effort toward regaining its former Category 1 standing. The course, to begin next month, will include a simulator module to be carried out in Canada as well as computerized refreshers in operational competency and a quality assurance seminar in safety systems.

“The Israel Airports Authority has embarked on a new road in the realm of flight-control training,” announced IAA Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ovadia Eli. He added that the main task would be to “upgrade safety in Israeli air space by massive investment in this area.”

Among the staff to be trained are all IAA flight controllers and operations specialists, as well as flight-control shift leaders, unit heads and quality control supervisory personnel.

On-the-job training for the flight controllers at their own work stations will also be conducted, in accordance with FAA training regulations. The IAA also plans to compile a new manual of flight-control procedures as well, to be submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority for approval.

Eli said the Authority will also invest NIS 3.7 billion to upgrade the infrastructure, security and safety systems at Ben Gurion International Airport.

It was not clear when the upgrades at Ben Gurion Airport would begin, however.