March 21, 2008 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Israel grounded all F-16I fighter jets Friday after formaldehyde, a potentially carcinogenic material, was found in one of the plane's cockpits.
IDFAF F-16I in the dispersal with its pilots preparing for a flight [IDF/AF photo]
IAF Commander Eliezer Shkedy ordered the jets grounded for examination after pilots complained of a strong chemical smell, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
Although the substance was only found in one of the planes' cockpits, Shkedy grounded all 62 F-16I jets pending a thorough investigation. The IDFAF fleet of 125 F-16C/Ds remains fully operational.
Formaldehyde is a known by-product of jet engine exhaust and has already been reported to irritate eyes and the respiratory tract.
Other sources indicate that the formaldehyde could be coming from the F-16I air conditioning system.
A report on the matter has been transferred to Lockheed Martin, the planes' manufacturer.