Private jet crashed into building at Malta airport

Anastasia Dagaeva
December 29, 2017

A private jet reportedly belonging to a former deputy chairman of the Great Britain’s Conservative Party Lord Ashcroft crashed into a block of offices in Malta after it was reportedly blown across a runway by strong winds. According to local media reports, the aircraft veered into offices belonging to the Polidano Group, a construction company with offices located close to Malta International Airport, reports the Telegraph.

The nose of the aircraft is embedded into the building, which was empty at the time of the incident. The company's legal representative Jean Paul Sammut told the Times of Malta : "It seems like it was the result of the strong winds. The building didn’t sustain major damage, but we presume the aircraft did”.

The ill-fated Dassault Falcon 7X was parked on Apron 4, close to the Lufthansa Technik facility. Transport Malta and Malta International Airport officials are investigating the incident, while the Bureau of Air Accident Investigation are also investigating. The police and armed forces were on site and closed the road off to traffic. 

In a statement, Malta International Airport said its operations and security teams were deployed to the scene immediately to safeguard the integrity of the aerodrome and secure the airport perimeter. MIA's Rescue and Fire Fighting Services were also on the scene as a precautionary measure, however there were no injuries reported.

The airport did not reply to questions about how the aircraft was tethered or by whom, saying: "Malta international Airport is supporting the Bureau for Air Accident Investigation in its ongoing inquiry and therefore it would be premature to give any further details at this time. The airport’s Rescue and Fire Fighting Services also remain on standby should any special assistance be required”. Sammut, meanwhile, believes that the plane was secured by security cables and brakes, but thinks those must have “blown off” in the ensuing winds, the Evening Standard reports.

The jet designated VP-BZE is understood to be registered in Bermuda in Lord Ashcroft's name. Listed as one of Britain's wealthiest billionaires, he is a high-profile political donor and the former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. While Lord Ashcroft has not issued a formal statement on the incident, when asked on Twitter if the aircraft belonged to him, he responded: “Nooooooo…”. 

Malta International Airport is the only airport in Malta and it serves the whole of the Maltese Islands. It is located on island of Malta, between Luqa and Gudja. It was completely refurbished, becoming fully operational on 25 March 1992. It is still referred to by locals as Luqa Airport, and sometimes as Valletta Airport internationally, as it is located 5 km southwest of the Maltese capital Valletta. The airport serves as the main hub for Air Malta and a base for Ryanair low-cost airline.

The Dassault Falcon 7X is a large-cabin business jet manufactured by Dassault Aviation, the largest of its Dassault Falcon line. Launched at 2001 Paris Airshow, its first flight was on 5 May 2005 and it entered service on 15 June 2007. 

The Falcon 7X is a three-engined cantilever monoplane with a low-positioned, highly swept wing. It has a horizontal stabiliser at mid-height and a retractable tricycle landing gear, and three rear-mounted Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines : two on the side of the fuselage and one in a center position, and room for 20 passengers and two crew. It is the first production Falcon jet to offer winglets.

The Falcon 7X is designed to fly 11,019 km, linking city pairs such as Paris-Tokyo, Shanghai-Seattle, New York-Jeddah, and Johannesburg-London, with a payload of eight passengers and three crew. The 7X is the only aircraft in its class able to reach New York from London City Airport.

The list price of a new Falcon 7X is currently about $54 million. A 7 to 9 year old one, built in 2008 to 2010, will cost in the region of $19 million to $24 million, a 3 to 4-year-old 7X is typically $27 million to $34 million. Prices on second-hand ones vary depending on the level of use, maintenance, record keeping, and upkeep, according to Sherpa Report.

The main cabin is 11.9 meters long and 1.88 meters high. There are several different floor plans with seating capacity for up to 19, although 12 is a more typical configuration. The cabin is typically split into three areas and can be fitted to accommodate beds or even an onboard shower.

Today, over 270 Falcon 7X aircraft are in service in 41 countries. From its inception, the Falcon 7X was destined to be a revolutionary aircraft, introducing business aviation to the industry’s first Digital Flight Control System. On May 2, 2014, Dassault Falcon pilots Philippe Deleume and Olivier Froment set a new speed record for the Falcon 7X on a 5 hr 54 min flight from New York Teterboro Airport to London City Airport with three passengers on board.