JERUSALEM (Feb. 17)
Israeli air force officials say steps already have been taken to implement recommendations made by the official commission investigating the fatal crash of two military helicopters.
The Feb. 4 mid-air collision over northern Israel killed all 73 soldiers and crew aboard.
The commission, appointed immediately after the crash, submitted its interim findings last Friday.
While the commission “cannot as yet identify the cause of the accident,” the report said, it ruled out bad weather conditions as a possible factor.
The commission, headed by former Defense Ministry Director- General David Ivri, made several recommendations for changes in procedures regarding flights transporting troops into the southern Lebanon security zone.
The report recommended that helicopters fly separately instead of in formation to reduce the chance of collision. It also suggested that the policy of turning off aircraft lights when crossing the border be re-examined.
The commission found that the two pilots of the aircraft were given separate flying orders, but told to coordinate with each other to cross the border. Although both were veteran pilots, neither one was authorized to lead a formation.
A senior air force official was quoted by the Israeli daily Ha’aretz as saying that helicopters already were under orders to fly separately and that new procedures were established to determine under what conditions, if any, the helicopters would turn off their lights.