Israel Orders ATR Turboprops Grounded
Policy Driven Not By Airworthiness, But Missile Defense.
Israel's Transportation Ministry has ordered two domestic airlines to stop using ATR turboprops within two years, but the order has nothing to do with any airworthiness issue. Instead, the government warns Arkia and Israir that the planes "cannot be fitted with anti-missile systems," according to a report in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily newspaper.
Reuters reports Israel has accelerated the installation of anti-missile defenses due to as many as 20,000 MANPADS, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft rockets, looted from Libya, and now thought to be in the hands of militants. Five of the turboprops are currently in use by the two airlines, primarily for short hops between Tel Aviv and Eilat, a resort city in the south.
Arkia and Israir, along with state-run El Al Airlines, are equipping their Boeing and Airbus jets with a version of an anti-missile system originally designed for helicopters, which uses a laser to overload the sensors on heat-seeking missiles and divert them from the targeted aircraft. Most of the fleet will reportedly be fitted with the system, domestically manufactured by the El-Op subsidiary of Elbit Systems and called "C-Music," by the end of next year.
There has been no official comment on the new order from either the government or the affected airlines, or any explanation of why C-Music cannot be deployed on turboprops.
Source: 26 February 2012 - www.aero-news.net & www.youtube.com
Photo: Israel's Transportation Ministry ATR Turboprops (Photo by http://www.atraircraft.com)