Air Force slams Israel Aerospace over maintenance

Hercules aircraft Photo: PR / Photo: PR

The IAF commander has ordered Hercules cargo planes and Boeing 707 planes used for airborne refueling to be grounded and left out of training flights.

The Israel Air Force has expressed unprecedented criticism of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1), following an accident early this year in which a Hercules cargo plane rolled a distance of dozens of meters to the side of the runway, when it should have come to a total stop.

Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin yesterday received the results of a five-month comprehensive investigation conducted following the accident. The IDF spokesperson stated today, "The maintenance culture and level of inspection at IAI, as reflected in the investigation report, is below the required level."

The IDF said that following the findings, which were presented to the investigative committee, and in view of the recommendation by the air force technical headquarters unit, Norkin ordered the Hercules cargo planes and Boeing 707 planes used for airborne refueling to be grounded and left out of training flights.

Two IAI employees were slightly injured in the accident that led to the investigation, which occurred at Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel. The IDF said that the accident took place in the course of routine handling of the plane by IAI under a contract between the air force and the company. According to this contract, IAI is responsible for maintaining the aircraft used for heavy cargo transportation, deals with malfunctions discovered in the aircraft from time to time, and warms up the engines. The contract stipulates that IAI employees are required to maintain the planes in accordance with the manufacturers' instruction and in compliance with the policy of the air force technical units.

The IDF said today that an inspection conducted last week of IAI's maintenance system at the IDF base in the south found that "The professional level is inadequate and the air force procedures binding on IAI according to the contract were not carried out." The IDF spokesperson added that the inspection had revealed that "Work is not done according to the books and written procedures, and there are gaps in managing the air forces' aircraft, equipment, and materials."

According to the IDF, IAI's inspection and quality control procedures are deficient, and failed to detect the deviations from the air force's orders and standards, which are binding on the company. The IDF also said that upon receiving the report about the accident, Norkin had commented that as he saw it, every accident was preventable, and that the source of the direct causes of the accident in which the Hercules plane rolled off the runway was inaccurate operation by maintenance personnel.

IAI said in response, "IAI has provided services to the Ministry of Defense's satisfaction for decades, and the company was a full partner in the investigation, with which it fully cooperated. IAI does, and will do, everything necessary to correct the deficiencies and continue serving the Ministry of Defense to its satisfaction, as it has done since the founding of the state."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 20, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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Hercules aircraft Photo: PR / Photo: PR
Hercules aircraft Photo: PR / Photo: PR
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