Avro York G-ANSY departed from rwy 24 Luqa airport enroute to Stansted UK, approximately 3 minutes later at 13:23LT the aircraft crashed at Zurrieq valley in an area referred as ''it-Tirxija''. All on board died on impact - the 5 crew members of the Scottish Airlines and 45 passengers, all RAF personnel except one Army Private.
Twelve of these soldiers were on this flight after winning the lottery which was organised among themselves when they were at the Suez Canal zone, and the winner was to travel to England by air rather by sea.
Notwithstanding the fact that a Board of Inquiry has been set up which was attempted to unravel the mystery surrounding the case, most of the information that has surfaced so far has been inconclusive. Nobody really knows for certain what actually happened from when the Avro York with registration G-ANSY took off from rwy 24 till when it crashed 3 minutes later.
The aircraft type Avro York having the aviation terminology of ''Sugar York'' was of Scottish Airlines based in Prestwick. It had been chartered by the Royal Air Force and was being used to carry troops from Suez in Egypt, to the UK., with a stop-over in Malta.
It was on Saturday 18th February 1956 when the aircraft with 5 crew members and 45 passengers departed from Abu Sueir in Egypt enroute to Stansted UK however it made a technical stop of more than 1 hr in Malta at 11:46LT and was loaded with 2,000 gallons of fuel.
As the plane took off from rwy 24, the ATC saw smoke coming from the left engine, and informed the pilot in command, Captain Frank Coker, immediately. The plane appeared to climb to around 1,000ft, shortly thereafter it banked to the left and plunged almost vertically into the cliffs.
As it was loaded with around 2,000 gallons of high octane aviation fuel, the plane exploded on impact and was engulfed by flames. When the rescue services arrived at the scene it was clear that there were no survivors. The bodies of the pilot & co-pilot, navigator, radio officer and an air hostess were taken to UK for burial, and the others were left in Malta and buried at Imtarfa.
The first person to arrive at the crash site was the Leading Airman Edwards whose first reaction was to save passengers however after going near the back of the aircraft that was not yet on fire he didn't find anybody.
It resulted that all on board the Avro York were driven in front on impact as all the bodies were found in the bottom part of the plane were it took fire. After that the fire was extinguished the search and rescue began with the hope that lifes will be saved however unfortunately all 50 persons on board were death with the major part of them burned.
The day after the accident on Sunday 19th February 1956 a Board of Inquiry was set up by T. R. Nelson and J. Goulding, 2 high Officials from the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation that were sent to Malta from England.
From the investigaton it was resulted that the weather observations at Luqa airport at the time of this tragic accident was with light wind, visibilty 22 NM and temperature 14 °C.
During the course of the investigation several theories were studed on what actually happened during those 3 minutes such as:-
- 1. that during take-off there was a bird strike according to Thomas
Robinson Master Pilot RAF;
The Scottish Airline did not agreed with the court that the cause of the accident was pilot error and does not exclude that the cause of the crash was due to explosion (sabotage) since the aircraft passed from Cyprus which at that time was considered a hot zone.
sources have been used to compile this accident coverage:-