The 7th International Civil Aviation Conference

 Conference program and videos - click here


The 7th International Civil Aviation Conference: A Synopsis

The Fisher Institute and the Israel Airports Authority


The 7th International Civil Aviation Conference took place November 25th, 2014 at the Fisher Institute's headquarters in the Israel Air Force Center in Herzliya. As in previous years, national and international representatives from a wide variety of aviation fields were in attendance, among them: Directors of Arkia and Israir, senior executives from Boeing, Airbus, IAI, IATA managers, both European and local senior executives from IFALPA and AOPA, IAF officers and senior staff, pilots, quality control crews, and others.


The interest and desire to participate in this conference surpassed expectations and experience from previous conferences. "We began on a small flame a few years ago. This year we have nearly double the amount of people" Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Asaf Agmon, Head of the Institute, shared with the audience "than we can handle in this hall. This just points to the fact that there is a real and growing need for a professional forum on this vital subject on a national level."


More than 360 people registered in advance for the conference and some two dozen journalists were in attendance. In order to accommodate the attendees, Fisher Institute opened up an additional room -- The Pilots' Club -- to handle the overflow, where the conference was broadcast simultaneously on closed-circuit video.


The conference covered two seminal, pressing subjects which were of great interest to local civil aviation:


Israel's Shrinking Civil Aviation Infrastructures and the lack of proper planning for ideal alternatives.


Continuing Operations of Civil Aviation in Conflict Zones in light of the lessons learned from Operation Protective Edge.


A third session, featuring representatives from Airbus, Boeing and IAI, discussed the future development of worldwide civil aviation.


The conference hosted Mr. Christos Petrou, President of MED-FSF from Cyprus, with whom the Fisher Institute has had a working relationship, particularly in the fields of regional aviation and security. It is largely thanks to this strong working relationship that Israel has been able to begin cooperation with Europe.


Martin Robinson, President of AOPA-E (Europe), was also in attendance. Mr. Robinson talked about the national importance of airports, cautioning those in decision making positions about the destruction of Israel's civil aviation infrastructures. "A kilometer of road or train track leads no where, while a kilometer of runway leads to the whole world. Once runways are lost they are hard to get back." Mr. Rafael Schwarzmann, Vice-President for Europe of IATA was also present.


The conference's distinguished guest was Deputy Chairman of the Knesset, MK Yitzhak Vaknin who has taken under his wing the difficult battle of preventing the closing of the Herzliya and Sde Dov airports. During his short talk, he had heavy criticism about the way in which decisions were made regarding the closing of the airports, and promised to not remain silent until a suitable solution is found to prevent the destruction of civil aviation in Israel. "Unfortunately, I admit decisions have been made in a way that have nothing to do with reality on the ground. I have no intention of approaching this situation -- i.e. the issue of Israel's civil aviation airports -- in a superficial manner. We must find solutions first. We cannot close the airports and then worry about the alternatives. We cannot fall asleep on our watch. If we do, then our infrastructures will collapse."


During the session on the future of aviation, senior representatives from Boeing, Airbus and IAI presented their new plans and concepts for the planes of the future. Partiicpants also learned about the threat of cyber warfare and the demands for monitoring passenger planes. This session closed with an overview from the President of the Israel Pilots Association who emphasized the need for pilots to maintain their expertise and hone their skills in this day and age when so much flying is done by computers.


In the session on the Lessons from Operation Protective Edge, the audience learned of the preparations that took place in advance to ensure an effective defense system on the one hand, and on the other hand, continual operation of civilian flights at Ben Gurion Airport, and maintaining clear runways. There was minimal damage in both categories. Due to FAA internal executive regulations, the airport was closed to international flights for 36 hours due to one missile which was nearby.


The conference offered the Institute an opportunity to part from the outgoing Director of the Israel Airports Authority, Giora Romm and thank him for his cooperation and partnership throughout the years. "Thank you to Giora Romm," Agmon stated at the beginning of his remarks, "without whose participation and support this conference could not take place." Romm detailed the accomplishments of the Israel Airports Authority and praised his staff.


The media coverage was quite extensive, with some highlights listed herewith:


* MK Yitzhak Vaknin's presentation, where he promised to dedicate his efforts to the battle of what he termed "superficial decisions" to ensure the future of our aviation infrastructures was widely covered in both broadcast (interviewed on a number of radio stations) and print media.


* The CEO of Israir, Uri Sirkis, was quoted when he spoke about the damaging ramifications to Eilat passenger flights and the Rosh Pina and Haifa airports, and the businesses that depend on internal flights.


* President of the Israel Pilots Association, Shai Popper's dark prediction of the death of light aviation in Israel with the closing of the Sde Dov and Herzliya airports, was quoted throughout the press.


* The incumbent results from operations during Operation Protective Edge were proudly reviewed.


Within the aviation industry there was great interest following the President of IATA's discussion of the need for greater aviation monitoring. This resulted in a meeting with representatives from IAI to discuss future developments in this field.

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