Dr. Yossi Shuv, a veteran pilot of 35 years, began his career as an Israel Air Force (IAF) fighter pilot and has taken part in Israel's wars since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Today he serves as head of the Israel Air Lines Pilots Association (IALPA).
Arutz Sheva got the chance to speak with Shuv about the lethal crash of a Russian airliner belonging to the Metrojet company over the Sinai this Saturday, in which 224 people were killed and which was claimed by Islamic State (ISIS) – a claim that is currently under investigation.
Shuv explained that it is impossible to draw conclusions just from the pictures of the crash scene, noting, "there was something sudden there, that's clear. Was it a foreign object that hit the plane? I can't tell you – only after they finish the investigation and end the process of checking."
The expert explained that pilots are given tests five times a year in addition to other checks so as to significantly reduce the dangers of an aerial crash.
"In a proper airline the chance that something like this will happen are very low, the pilots are familiar with all meteorological phenomenon, and at a minimum know how to deal with all sorts of technical malfunctions, and when confronted with conventional malfunctions they know how to deal with them."
"There are situations I still remember from the air force when a plane flies at a low height and a bird of missile hits it or there's a really serious technical malfunction of an engine exploding, and it happens suddenly, and the pilot needs to know how to respond, either to eject from the fighter jet or land in the nearest field," said Shuv.
He explained that "in recent years, there are no longer technical malfunctions of that sort, because proper airlines have very advanced maintenance and inspection systems."
"Couldn't happen in Israel"
The aeronautical expert appraised that in the case of the Russian airliner that crashed over the Sinai, some unusual and abnormal incident caused the explosion of the plane in midair.
"The height the plane was flying at, between 30,000-35,000 feet, is a height where there aren't any birds," he explained. "The most logical possibility is that there was a very unusual malfunction that caused the plane to lose control suddenly. However, it could be that if the plane was flown by veteran pilots they could have led it safely to the nearest airport."
International media has described how the family members of the pilot of the plane revealed how he complained to them about the low maintenance standards of the plane.
Dr. Shuv said that such a situation would be inconceivable in Israel, noting, "you won't hear something like that in organized airlines. There's no way a plane gets off the ground in a moderate condition of maintenance."
"It's important to note that I don't know if that was actually said," he added regarding the pilot's alleged complaint. "A pilot won't take an airplane that is not in a good maintenance condition."
In response to the crash and ISIS's claims to having caused it, various international airlines announced they would temporarily halt their flights from Sinai, but as Shuv pointed out, Israeli airlines don't fly from the Sinai Peninsula anyway.
"Israeli airlines are the first in the world that instituted various types of defense systems, which it is forbidden to detail what they are, and I believe that the rest of the world will adopt them soon," he said. "We have a modern and unique defense system that was developed in Israel."