Air traffic controllers at Ben-Gurion Airport prevented an airplane crash on the runway Wednesday night. An airplane from the Turkish Corendon Airlines attempted to take off as an airplane from Romania's flag carrier airline Tarom approached the same runway to land.
From details made available thus far, it seems the Turkish pilot stationed his airplane at the takeoff point contrary to instructions from the air traffic controllers and disrupted the Romanian airplane's landing. The Romanian airplane was flying at an altitude of 1,000 ft and was about 3 km (1.8 miles) from the landing point, about one and a half minutes from landing.
Because of the alertness of controllers in the control tower, an accident was avoided. They instructed the Romanian airplane to delay landing. An El Al plane in line for takeoff after the Turkish pilot noticed the accident waiting to happen and quickly reported it to the control tower.
The Israel Airports Authority reported the incident to Transportation Ministry's chief aerial accidents investigator, Attorney Yitzhak Raz, for investigation. Recordings of communication between the pilots and the control towers were handed over to Raz to search in his investigation of the incident.
This event comes on the backdrop of the closure of one of the runways at Ben Gurion at the beginning of the month as part of a runway renovation effort being carried out for safety reasons.
The most serious safety breach at Ben Gurion Airport occurred last year when an El Al plane came within 250 meters (820 feet) of a Lufthansa airplane. Imminent disaster was avoided thanks to the automatic warning system installed in the planes that was activated because of the exceptional proximity to one another.
According to the Transportation Ministry's report following the incident, the El Al plane started slowly traveling on the runway after receiving permission to take off. At the same time, a Lufthansa plane approaching for landing did not hear the traffic control's instructions to move left and upward.
At this point, the Israeli plane accelerated on the runway as the German plane continued its descent. Because of their close proximity and their relative angles, the two pilots did not notice one another.