El Al Paris Charles de Gaulle for Tel Aviv flight Boeing 747 Reg 4X-ELD ( 1999) was disconnected from the pushback tractor at 13.00 hrs on 13th April ready for take off. The 364 highly screened passengers in the world's most secure airline settled back along with their 6 armed air marshals and anti-missile chaff and the Israeli manufactured radar-based modified military Flight Guard anti missile system using state of art miniaturised ELTA pulse-Doppler sensors. (Swiss airports ban El Al regarding this system using ejected flares as dangerous in the proximity of airports, others in Europe are considering a smiliar ban)
The VIP's and Super class passengers got settled in after their spell in the newly opened luxurious King David Lounge in De Gaulle Airport.*** Only the gentle fizz of champagne and the tinkle of diamonds breached the silence of the Premier class passengers.
Before being cleared by ground staff (El Al use their own employees) the ex IDF pilot commenced taxi-ing - but the tractor was ... er .... still under the aircraft.
The resulting damage to the inboard starboard Pratt & Whitney PW4056 powerplant as it hit the stationary tug must have been quite a jolt for everyone on board, rattling a few diamonds and spilling a drop or two of champagne - the engine suffered major damage and the flight was ...er ... cancelled. Passengers were taken off, kept overnight and flew out on Sunday.
Thankfully nobody either on board, on the ground or in the tug was hurt.
El Al ( Company slogan הכי בבית בעולם - "Home away from Home") are not a state airline anymore (although it still owns 30%) and it is run by Israel "Izzy" Borovich's Knafaim-Arkia Holdings which owns 40 percent of the carrier's stockand are re-eqipping with Airbus.
Should you wish to travel on El Al you will be classified in a triage security system ;jews and Israelis are considered lowest threat, Westerners (well white ones) are usually classified as medium level threats, and Arabs (particularly males) are usually classified as high threat due to the overwhelming majority of attacks against Israeli targets having been carried out by Arab individuals in the past. Al security procedures demand all passengers be interviewed individually prior to boarding, allowing El Al staff to identify possible security threats with probing questions, such as their origin, goal and occupation - this is said to eliminate potential terrorists by their incapacity to maintain their calmness under such intensive questioning.
Rigorous procedures at checkin control passports and tickets utilizing information from secret services worldwide and endless databases. Each passenger and their hand luggage go through rigorous screening, including hand searches. In addition, all luggage must pass through a decompression chamber; this simulates pressures during flight which may be triggers for explosives. El Al is the only airline in the world that passes all luggage through such a chamber. Even in airports in the United States, El Al security agents conduct all luggage searches personally, though they are often supervised by government or private security firms who otherwise have screening responsibilities.
*** Opened on 17th January by Izzy, the The Parisian lounge offers the same services as in Israel; all furnishings were designed in Israel and flown to Paris where they were built by Israeli carpenters. The lounge offers small tables with computer access, a bar and even a business room provided by Bank Leumi offering passengers computer services, financial information as well as access to the Bank's banking services.
At the opening ceremony El Al's Director of Marketing Rami Levi, stressed the importance of upgrading of the business sector's pre flight lounge services. Maybe they will get round to doing something about the ramp services.