It was a year ago to the day that a small French aircraft conducting a surveillance mission for France crashed in Luqa, killing all five crew on board.
Yet, despite the initial local and international media frenzy and which had surrounded Malta’s deadliest plane crash since 1975, the cause of the tragedy has not yet been established.
State broadcaster TVM reported today that an inquiry – led by magistrate Doreen Clarke – is still ongoing, and the aircraft debris is being kept under lock and key inside a warehouse at the Mosta Technopark. Neither the Chief Justice nor the French ambassador to Malta were forthcoming when asked for updates on the inquiry.
Captain Frank Zammit from the Maltese Bureau of Air Accident Investigations said his bureau is not investigating the incident because the fact it was a state flight means it fell outside its remit.
“It is possible the investigations have still only just begun,” Zammit told TVM. “The aeroplane suffered extensive damage, and it will take a lot of time and investigations to ascertain the cause of the crash.”
The aeroplane was a twin turboprop Fairchild Metroliner, registered in the United States but operated by CAE Aviation – a Luxembourg-based aviation company specialising in aerial surveillance.
The Maltese government claimed the flight was part of a French customs surveillance operation to combat drug and human trafficking. However, the French customs department said none of its officials were on board the flight and the French defence ministry said three of the dead were employed with the Directorate for External Security.
The victims’ names have not yet been officially confirmed.