The IAF has rejected criticism regarding the way in which it handled the issue. A high-ranking officer told Ynet that the IAF has exceeded all expectations on this issue, and continues to research solutions to the problem even when other organizations would probably have quit.
“We didn’t remove it from our list of priorities, even when no solutions were evident,” he said.
The officer added that Israel is the only country in which the crew’s complaints about pungent smells in the aircraft were researched, though such complaints have been heard throughout the world.
“In many ways it is honorable,” he said. “We’re not happy the substance exists, but a solution will be found. Many countries that haven’t researched the issue will follow every step the IAF takes on the matter.”
From the operational point of view, the officer believes that IAF soldiers understand the complexity of the situation and distinguish between the discontinuation of training and security issues. “All operations will be executed with these jets. That’s clear to everyone.”
No proof of illnessChief IAF Medical Officer Colonel Dr. Erez Birnbaum said that throughout the investigation of the pungent smell on the jets, other countries holding F-16ls were contacted. Many countries had records of similar complaints, but the cause had never been discovered.
According to Birnbaum, formaldehyde should not be present on the jets. “This is an unexplored issue in the world of aviation,” he said. “The pilots undergo regular physicals, which have not shown any proof of illness to date. We will continue to follow up on this issue until we are sure that this event has passed harmlessly.”
Shkedi spoke with the exposed pilots on Sunday and assured them of full disclosure regarding this subject. He promised to update them regarding every new detail discovered during the continuing investigation.