TEL AVIV (Nov. 19)
Israel’s first commercial transport plane crashed in the Samaria district today while on a test flight, killing three pilots and injuring a fourth. It was the second crash involving a prototype plane designed and built in Israel. A committee has been established to investigate the accident. The chief test pilot was Avraham Hacohen, father of three, who had survived a crash earlier this year of the second of the two Israeli-made planes, the Jet Commander. In that test flight the Kibbutz Beit Alpha-born flyer received only minor injuries. The two other victims today were Amnon Azouri, an engineer who graduated from the Technion, and Eitan Spigel, an electrical technician. The plane that crashed today, known as the Arava, is of the STOL (Short Take-Off-and-Landing) type, designed for feeder services. It has a capacity of 22 passengers and 4400 pounds of cargo. The air frame is the product of the Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. Its two Pratt & Whitney 6-A-27 turbo-prop engines were built abroad. They provided a maximum cruising speed of 209 m.p.h. at 10,000 feet and a cruising range of about 600 miles. The Arava was dedicated last April by Premier Golda Meir in a festive ceremony. It passed its first test flight last January and was due to make its first commercial flight next April.