Safety First

An F-16 taking off Safety First

An F-16 “Fighting Falcon” taking off The “Quality Control” Unit is concluding another year. Commanders from IAF airbases gathered to summarize and discuss the outcomes of various actions taken throughout the year. They attempted, along with Commander of the IAF, to pinpoint problematic issues that might contribute to avoiding the next tragedy

Mai Efrat and Shai Rosenfeld

The administration of the Quality Control Unit is responsible for all safety issues in the force and is looking ahead, awaiting the upcoming year. All IAF commanders were summoned to the assembly.

“There are many dilemmas and issues that our commanders are deliberating upon, and we’re aware of that. One of our goals is to collaborate and agree on solutions”, says Colonel Nir, Commander of the Quality Control Unit. “Additionally, Quality Control members, who are in charge of safety, want to pass on their knowledge”.

A summary of last year’s accidents that occurred worldwide and within Israel will be presented, including conclusions and lessons learned. For the first time, the Quality Control Unit tried to anticipate the dangers that could arise next year and tried to find ways to handle them.

Up until now, the evaluations have been long term, five years ahead, though now a new tactic has been approved: focusing on short time periods in hope of decreasing the number of safety issues in the force.

“It isn’t easy to detect the next cause for an accident. Our job is to try and prevent accidents that weren’t foreseen”, says Colonel Nir, “Over the past couple of years there was an average of two fatal accidents per year. It’s not a large number considering the number of aviation training hours in the force, though each accident is a tremendous loss”.

The personal motives
The professional conversation between the different formation commanders, soon enough, turned personal. In smaller forums, the Commanders shared with each other their personal experiences of accidents.

The spotlight wasn’t only aimed toward the Quality Control Unit, but toward Commanders who need to put the recommendations to action and supervise those under them.

“Since the 1990s, we have realized that the human factor is becoming more dominant. In the past, most difficulties caused technical issues, and we thought there weren’t many; they occurred out of aerial team member’s personal mistakes. These days, the picture has turned around”, says Colonel Nir. “A different risk issue is that we rely on an automatic pilot. The aircrafts become more inventive and demand a higher level of skill from air crews”.
The good news is that most dangers can be dealt with.

The past year has been defined as the ‘establishment’ year and allowed the aerial crews members to practice the basics elements of aviation.
“We are in a race, trying to comprehend all abilities. Unfortunately, following the accidents we have experienced, we have acknowledged that basics come first”, clarifies Commander of the Quality Control Unit. “Back to the Basics” will continue next year as well, while a third of the year will be dedicated for training.