TEL AVIV (Dec. 16)
The air force is investigating the crash of a transport plane that killed five officers in the Negev early Friday morning.
The board of inquiry set up by air force commander Gen. Avihu Bin-Nun immediately after the accident has ruled out engine failure as the cause.
The plane was a single-engine Cessna light transport and the flight was a routine hop from one air base to another.
The board is considering possible rudder failure, wind shear or pilot disorientation. The pilot may have become confused after entering the pitch-black desert from the lighted runway and failed to gain sufficient altitude to make a safe emergency landing.
Ground control reported no emergency communication from the pilot.
One of the fatalities was Capt. Shlomit Yair, 21, daughter of Maj. Gen. Yoram Yair, a senior air force officer. She lived in Ra’anana, near Tel Aviv.
Except for Yair, who was an operations officer, the victims were all pilots.
The air force identified them as Maj. Daniel Novogrotzky, 27, of Kfar Achim in the Negev; Maj. Ofer Zaharoni, 28, of Moshav Ram On in the Gilboa region; Capt. Ziv Groch, 25, of Kibbutz Gill Yam; and Capt. Gideon Zakai, 26, of Moshav Omer, near Beersheba.