Alert air traffic controller averts collision at Ben Gurion Airport
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Alert air traffic controller averts collision at Ben Gurion Airport

EasyJet flight to Nice begins takeoff before receiving all-clear — right into the path of a corporate jet on approach to land

Illustrative: An easyJet airliner on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport, August 3, 2013. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative: An easyJet airliner on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport, August 3, 2013. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A potentially disastrous collision between two planes at Ben Gurion International Airport was prevented on Tuesday when an alert air traffic controller called back an easyJet plane that was about to take off without receiving permission from the tower.

According to airport officials, the plane, an Airbus A320 passenger jet headed for Nice, France, began accelerating down the runway before receiving the all-clear to do so from the control tower.

At the same moment, another plane, a Bombardier Challenger 350 corporate jet, was approaching an intersecting runway for landing.

The controller noticed the problem in time to stop the departing plane, preventing a possible high-speed collision on the ground.

Officials have notified the Civil Aviation Authority and the Transportation Ministry about the incident.

In a response to the incident sent to The Times of Israel, easyJet said it “adheres to strict safety procedures and so its safety team will conduct an investigation in consultation with the relevant authorities to understand if procedures were followed correctly. The safety of its passengers and crew is easyJet’s highest priority.”

In March, a German plane hit an El Al jet on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport. There were no injuries, and all of the passengers were evacuated back to the airport terminal.

A Flygermania plane collided with an El Al plane on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport on March 28, 2018. Nobody was hurt. (Israel Airports Authority screenshot)

The Berlin-bound Germania Boeing 737 was reversing out of its parking place en route to takeoff when it clipped the tail of the El Al 767, set to fly to Rome. The El Al plane had already moved away from its passenger entry sleeve and had come to a stop. The damage to the El Al plane was estimated to cost “millions of shekels” to repair, according to The Marker business daily.

The slow-moving ground collision came hard on the heels of the chaotic evacuation of a plane due to fly from Budapest, Hungary, to Tel Aviv on earlier that month, during which an Israeli woman fell out of the doorway onto the ground and was seriously injured.

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