Fri, Apr 23, 2004
Israel's Transport Minister Hopes To Change Minds In
Israeli media report Israeli
Aircraft Industries and has been stopped cold in its attempts to
fly civilian aircraft equipped with the Flite Guard anti-missile
system inside the United States. The reports come as IAI announced
Thursday it will begin testing the Flite Guard system in June.
If successful, a spokesman for the Israeli Transport Ministry
said Flite Guard would be installed on all 30 El Al aircraft.
But the Israeli business journal The Globes says the FAA has
refused to allow the companies to install the systems on aircraft
that fly inside the US. The journal reports Israeli Transport
Minister Avigdor Lieberman plans to appeal directly to US
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta for a second chance.
At issue are the flares used by the Flite Guard system to
distract incoming missiles. To please the FAA and obtain
recognition worldwide, Flite Guard calibrated the flares so that
they won't discharge below a certain altitude. The problem, of
course, is that aircraft are most vulnerable to shoulder-launched
missiles at low-altitude -- while taking off and landing.
The FAA's answer: A sort of non-denial denial.
"For individual aircraft, if anyone
requests to put any sort of threat identification system or threat
mitigation system on an airplane, the FAA has one concern only,"
spokesman Les Dorr told ANN. "It's whether the system would
interfere with the safe operation of the aircraft itself. Someone
else has to determine whether it would work."
Israel's national airline, El Al, is reportedly in the process
of installing the Flite Guard system on its aircraft. The Globes
reports El Al officials are now worried that they'll be denied
landing rights in the US. But Dorr says that isn't a problem --
"We do not prohibit El Al from flying in the US. That's really
all I can say," he told ANN.
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