Training Plane Crash Still Unsolved, Fleet Grounded as Probe Continues

YERUSHALAYIM -
The site of where two Israeli soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash, southern Israel, November 24. (Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)

The Israel Air Force’s fleet of Snunit training planes will remain grounded indefinitely while investigators continue to try to solve the mystery of a recent crash that killed two IDF soldiers, according to The Times of Israel on Wednesday night.

Last Tuesday, a Snunit carrying a pilot’s course cadet, Cpl. Lihu Ben-Bassa z”l, 19, and his trainer, Maj. (res.) Itay Zayden z”l, 42, crashed near Kibbutz Mishmar Hanegev in southern Israel, killing both of them.

“At this time it is not yet possible to determine the cause of the crash,” the Israel Defense Forces said.

Accordingly, Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin has decided to keep the fleet of planes — Grob G 120 Snunit trainers — grounded until further notice. All other training aircraft have already returned to service.

Thus far, investigators have been at a loss to explain the tragedy. Lack of data has been an impediment, as there was no communication between the aircraft and the base in the minutes leading up to the crash, the plane’s internal communications system, which would show what Ben-Bassa and Zayden had been saying to each other beforeit happened, was badly damaged by the impact.

“There has not yet been found any evidence to indicate that the plane was hit or that birds hit [the airplane] or that parts came loose in air and/or that a fire broke out in the air,” the military said.

“At this time it is not yet possible to determine the cause of the crash,” the Israel Defense Forces said.