Scene of the crash
Scene of the crash United Hatzalah

The committee investigating the light airplane crash that killed Itay Zayden and Lihu Ben-Bassa last week has sent various items including a cockpit camera to a special laboratory outside the country, in order to reach an understanding of the reasons behind the crash.

Walla! News reports that the items were found in such damaged condition that it had not been possible to analyze them until now, and given that the “black box” is still missing, it is hoped that an analysis of the items that were found at the crash scene will shed light on the events of the last few seconds before the plane went down.

Contrary to assertions made last week by the IDF, the cockpit flight camera was indeed located at the crash scene – a camera that is usually used by the flight school to assess the teaching of cadets. Although the investigators managed to extricate the memory card from the camera, they were unable to read its contents and so it has been sent to a special laboratory where, it is hoped, the data will be retrieved.

With the investigation ongoing, it is not yet clear whether the disaster was the result of human error or technical malfunction. One IDF official told Walla that, “At first, the circumstances surrounding the incident were very unclear. By now, however, it is clear that we cannot rule out the possibility that human error was responsible for the crash.”

There are also a number of IDF officials investigating the crash who believe that the flight trainer was practicing flying under exceptional conditions with the cadet, which may have led to the incident. The cadet was still in the early stages of his course; the lesson in question was the fifteenth he had taken, and he was already being tested on his flight skills.

According to these officials, the investigators are being assisted in their task by aviation engineers, in an effort to reconstruct the condition of the plane prior to the crash. By the end of the week, the committee is due to present its findings to the Air Force commander, General Amikam Norkin.

The committee is investigating a whole list of issues, including the flight path, the instructor’s commands to the cadet, and the maintenance of the plane itself. The investigators will be questioning the flight instructors at the flight school regarding their program of instruction, the timetable of practice flights, safety procedures, and the pre-flight inspection of the airplane.

They will also be looking into any possible issues with the maintenance of aircraft of this type, as well as into whether the specific craft involved had been involved in previous incidents, and if it was due for any repairs in the near future.

Aircraft of the type involved in the crash have been used by the flight school for around twenty years already, and are seen as highly reliable and sturdy craft. They are manufactured by Elbit under contract from the Ministry of Defense.

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