The two planes were only 800 feet apart, below the minimum of 1,000 feet allowed between aircraft.The Transportation Ministry launched an investigation into the incident
An accident was averted at Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday evening, after an alert air traffic controller spotted an Air Berlin passenger plane deviating from its runway while taking off and approaching an El Al plane about to land. The German plane was ordered to take a different path. The Israeli plane, which arrived from Athens, landed safely.
According to reports in the Israeli media, the Air Berlin plane, heading to Cologne, Germany, had received instructions to take off from east to west, and climb to 8,000 feet. The aircraft, however, strayed south as it took off, coming close to an El Al Israel Airlines flight from Athens which was at 4,000 feet and coming in to land.
The two planes were only 800 feet apart, below the minimum of 1,000 feet allowed between aircraft.
The Transportation Ministry launched an investigation into the incident. Sources in the aviation industry defined Thursday evening's incident as extremely serious due to the fact that the air controller's awareness was the only thing that prevented a collision between the two planes.
The incident took place at around 5:30 pm. For an unknown reason, the German plane deviated southward after taking off from east to west. The Israel Airports Authority, said the cause was likely human error on the part of the German pilot.
Ben-Gurion Airport has been operating with only one runway for take offs and landings due to renovations on the other runway as part of the airport's safety upgrade.