Flying at the limit and keeping safe

I’m not a psychologist, but if I look at the routine operational pattern of the Israeli Air Force (IAF), grounding it to refresh safety procedures seems almost a must every now and then.

Earlier this week the IAF grounded all its fighting squadrons for one day, following a series of safety incidents.

Maj Gen Amir Eshel, commander of the IAF, took the step after a series of safety incidents. In one of them, two F-16s were in a “not safe” distance from each other. The fighters were flown by high ranking officers of the IAF.

Sources say that the two F-16s were 100 metres from each other.

The grounding was used to refresh the safety instructions that apply to the IAF’s fixed wing and rotorcraft squadrons.

Such a grounding happens from time to time following a certain number of safety incidents. Some, in the past, developed into deadly accidents.

The level of training and operational flights of the IAF is, if not the highest in the world, among the highest.

The squadrons fly a mix of training missions that sometimes turn to operational ones. All this characterises an airforce that extends its pilots and equipment to the limit.

In such circumstances, safety rules are sometimes not followed to the strictest detail, and that results in imposed groundings.

Any attempt to change that situation permanently will not succeed. One of the best airforces in the world is actually fighting on an almost daily basis and that calls for steps to bring the pilots back to the safety standard.

The high command of the IAF is doing all kinds of things to keep the highest safety standards. Sometimes a complete standstill is needed to achieve the effect.

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