The US Federal Aviation Authority returned Israel’s safety ranking to Category 1, its highest, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz said on Thursday.
The move came after the installation of new safety measures at the country’s main Ben Gurion Airport, the passing of new aviation laws, and the implementation of relevant regulations pertaining to aviation and aircraft maintenance.
The International Aviation Safety Assessment program, administered by the FAA, assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries that have air carriers that operate, or might be authorized to operate, in the United States.
The assessments are not an indication of whether individual foreign air carriers are safe or unsafe; rather, they determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities meet international safety standards.
In December 2008, the FAA downgraded Israel’s aviation safety standard rating to Category 2 following an assessment of the country’s civil aviation authority and in particular its regulation of light, private and sports aviation. With a Category two rating, Israeli air carriers were not allowed to establish new services to the United States.
According to the FAA, “A Category 2 rating may involve a country lacking laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with international standards, or that its civil aviation authority does not meet international standards in one or more areas such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping, or inspection procedures.”
Most developed countries and even some developing states have Category 1 rankings. Israel was the only member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development to have a Category 2 ranking.
In 2011 Israel updated its 80-year-old Aviation Law, which dated from the British Mandatory era, to match modern safety standards and regulations.