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El Al Jet Nearly Crashed

A 737 jet with 100 aboard almost crashed into a mountain near Eilat last month.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 5/26/2013, 9:42 PM

El Al airplanes
El Al airplanes
Flash 90

An El Al 737 jet with more than 100 aboard almost crashed into a mountain near Eilat last month, Channel 10 reported.

The near accident took place on a day of heavy haze. The 737 reached Eilat and was in the process of preparing to land when the control tower instructed the pilots to abort the landing, because the runway had not been prepared.

The pilots put the plane on a path that climbed in altitude and went northwards in order to circle around Eilat. However, as the plane turned, the pilots became disoriented and lost direction. The plane flew west but the pilots reported that they were going south.

The pilots did not see the tall mountains that were dead ahead of them and the plane was on a collision course.

The plane's warning systems began going off and the control tower, too, called on the pilots to climb sharply upward immediately. They did so, passing over the mountaintop by a mere 200 meters. They entered Egyptian airspace – something they were not allowed to do without prior permission.

The Ministry of Transport is still looking into the near-accident. The pilots have been suspended until the investigation is finalized.

Channel 10 added that El Al's Chief Pilot has asked the firm to cancel night flights to Eilat, where instrument-only landings are not possible.