Desmond Boomer

Desmond Boomer

A 38 year old Belfast born engineer working in the Libyan oil fields

Michael Williams

Michael Williams

A 49 year old English born engineer

Matthew Aquilina

Matthew Aquilina

A 22 year old Maltese national returning to Malta

Tadeus Gorny

Tadues Gorny

A 48 year Polish national working in the Libyan oil fields

Phillip Farrugia

Philip Farrugia

A 43 year old Maltese national returning to Malta

Carmel Bartolo

CArmelo Bartolo

The pilot, a 47 year Maltese national


Aviation Incident Enquiry - Court Of Enquiry 06 June 1996

Chairman: Dr. Philip Sciberras LL.D.

Members: Pilot Franz Sturmeir
                Mr Louis Giordimaina

Date: 6th June 1996

Aviation Incident Enquiry - Court Of Enquiry 06 June 1996

Chairman: Dr. Philip Sciberras LL.D.

Members: Pilot Franz Sturmeir
                Mr Louis Giordimaina

Date: 6th June 1996

Evidence of Mr Joe Sultana

Dr Borg Barthet: You have to procure for us the original manifest of flying.

Mr Joe Sultana: Yes that has been obtained by the Director General if you want I can present it now or else he can present it later but it is in hand.

Dr Farrugia: If there are any witness’s who are going to give evidence later I think it would be best if they would get out of the Hall.

Chairman: Dr Borg Barthet do you know of any witnesses who are present in this Court? Mr Sultana are there any witnesses present in this Court?

Mr J Sultana: Yes there may be,

Chairman: If they are going to take the witness stand they had better stay out.

Mr J Sultana: There are some from the Department.

Chairman: No that is all right, the DCA is a party, those gentleman may stay outside please.

Mr J Sultana: I am producing a copy of the passenger manifest for the departed flight, that is the flight which left Malta on the 2nd of December.

Dr Borg Barthet: The passengers were?

Mr J Sultana: The passengers according to the manifest which also bears the stamp of the Malta Police and Customs authorities, C. Bartolo, R. Wood, Omar M Kib, David Sillon and Hassan Kail, five persons in total including the pilot.

Dr Borg Barthet: Do you have the addresses there?

Mr J Sultana: No. The manifest contains the nationality and the passport number.

Chairman: Are they all foreigners?

Mr J Sultana: Yes there are two British and two Libyan apart from the pilot who is Maltese and the police normally retain a copy of the passenger embarkation card which I presume will have the address.

Chairman: So that is going to be exhibited as Dok. JS 15.

Dr Borg Barthet: So you do not have any further documents that would be useful for this enquiry?

Mr J Sultana: For the time being from what is going on I can produce also the document that we said we will send yesterday to send to the Tunisian authorities asking for the tapes and whether they are still available and whether they could provide us with a copy of the tapes and also to ask whether they have carried out any investigations themselves and can provide us with a copy of the report of the investigations if any have been drawn up. This was sent this moming by fax by the Director General of the Civil Aviation of Malta to the Director General of the Civil Aviation of Tunisia.

Chairman: Have you received any replies?

Mr J Sultana: No this was sent round about 11 o'clock and I expect the earliest that some sort of reply would be next week.

Chairman: Please exhibit that.

Dr Borg Barthet: Can you tell us when you first learnt of the incident and

how you came to know about it and what you did in the course.

Mr J Sultana: I remember that on the 3rd of December at about quarter past six in the morning I was at home in bed and I was woken up by a phone call from air traffic control and the officer in charge of the watch Mr Mangion told me that, or probably that they were expecting and air craft to arrive from Djerba and the air craft was the Piper PA32 QHABU and they did not have any contact with it.

The Tunisian's were also enquiring about the arrival of the air craft because they also at a certain point in time did not contact the aircraft any more and after checking with the controller the time that the aircraft was due, which was, the aircraft had departed at about quarter to four in the morning and it should have arrived in Malta about one and a half hours later so it would put the time at about six o'clock. At half past six at the time of phoning up the officer in charge of the watch told me that he was going to declare and alert, alpha situation. We discussed it and obviously I checked some further detaiIs about the flight, I checked about endurance the time that he has to arrive and I agreed in the circumstances there was no other way but to declare the alert phase on and he was supposed to take action. He also asked me whether I was going to inform the Director General, my superior, and I told him that I would do that job myself and in mean time I asked him to continue to try and seek out any information even about the aircraft's endurance, because it was supposed to arrive at 6 o'clock normally it would carry more fuel than the actual trip time. Between quarter to seven and seven o'clock, I do not remember exactly the time, I was very, just woken up and I had to start thinking about what was required so it took some time. I think between quarter to seven and seven o’clock I phoned the Director General and informed him of the situation. Here I may be mistaken, it may be more closer to seven. I phoned two people between quarter to seven and seven o’clock, I phoned the Director General and the Lieutenant Colonel Vassallo of the Armed Forces, I do not remember exactly the sequence I think it was, Colonel Vassallo first and the Director General.

I informed the Director General to give him the information about the possible emergency situation on our hands and the fact that there was probably going to be some research rescue involved. I formed Lieutenant Colonel Vassallo likewise for that matter since he is the most senior officer within the Armed Forces who normally looks after search and rescue and wanted to alert him as quickly as possible to the fact of the possibility that he would be receiving some call from his headquarters because I think that the procedure it is that in such cases the controller on duty would also have to inform the search and rescue authorities which in Malta happen to be the Armed  Forces. So I presume that the Ad Co. in charge would have contacted the Armed Forces Headquarters. In respective of that I also wanted to draw the attention of Col. Vassallo to the matter and I told him that I was going to go up to the airport as soon as possible, just the time to get dressed up.

I suppose I left my house at about ten minutes past seven and I was there somewhere around half past seven. I also wanted to inform Col. Vassallo of the situation, one because it lakes time to alert people who might participate in any search and rescue operations particularly at such early hours of the morning and also so that he could start thinking as early as possible on to what could be done in view of the limited resources which the Armed Forces have for such operations. So than I arrived at the airport, during my journey to the airport I also considered what the possible resources of the Armed Forces would be to deploy search and rescue and knowing that they had very limited resources I immediately thought of trying to get hold of the pilots of the company Exelair which also belong to the pilot of the QHABU aircraft who was on that plan and between half past seven and about quarter to eight that time was spent trying to get in touch with these pilots, breaking the news, either directly or through some other person, to Mr Bartolo, the wife of the pilot concerned. We could not get in touch immediately with Captain Dale who was the Chief Pilot of Exelair and instead we got in tough with two Pakistani pilots who were just being employed by Exelair and they said that they would try to get in touch with Captain Dale themselves and they also said that they would come to the airport. I also had a call from Mr Alfred Fenech who works as an Engineer for NCA he got to know about the possible problem with 9HABU and he asked whether the Department of I, whether I needed any help and I said that if he could in any way help, because I knew that he was involved through NCA with the maintenance of the aircraft to try and prepare the aircraft owned by Exelair for possible use in search and rescue operations, This he promised that he would do, Meantime the Pakistani pilots, if I remember correctly, they came to Luqa and they started familiarising themselves with the meteorological office.

At this time I was at the control tower so I knew about the arrival of the Pakistani pilots indirectly because they told me that they would be at the airport. They familiarised themselves with the weather situation obtained at the time in the possible area of search, that is along the route. In the meantime the Director General came to the airport round about eight/quarter past eight, we discussed what had been done so far and I also contact Mr Noel Attard who also is one of the Department's officials who normally comes up on emergencies to assist in tackling emergencies. He is also the Departments person who handles licensing matters, that is air crew licensing matters and because of the situation regarding the use of Exelair pilots we discussed some specific problems together or separately with the Director General. With regard to the allow these pilots to participate in the search, because the two Pakistani pilots at that time had not been authorised to fly with Exelair they were still waiting to be checked by our experts and normally we do not allow pilots to fly for companies before they complete such formalities and we give them the validation as I said yesterday. We decided that since this was an emergency and since the pilots concerned would be flying on search and rescue operations and not strictly on commercial operations we could accept their licenses which I believe were of the United States Airline Transport pilot licenses and we accepted them to fly without validations. We also discussed the use of the Chief pilot of Exelair who had a license which had just expired and again although he was still to be checked we agreed he could fly because of the emergency situation. When we informed them of the release to fly then the crew made preparations for the search and rescue. After getting the aircraft prepared and the Met briefing they proceeded as far as I know to the rescue co-ordination centre for further briefing. I then proceeded to the rescue co-ordination centre at about a quarter to nine/nine o'clock. I left the control tower and I went to the rescue coordination centre were I found Lieutenant Colonel Vassallo who was being assisted by Lieutenant Alexander Dalli. I remained in the rescue co-ordination centre for I think up to about eleven, were by that time search and rescue operations had already been started. I feIt that I would be of much more use at the centre to be of assistance to Colonel Vassallo because obviously they would have required information and also to know from were to get information to contact and that is all I know about the search and rescue, on the day.

Search and Rescue

Dr Borg Barthet: Am I right in saying that the search and rescue were operated by somebody else?

Mr J Sultana: The search and rescue operations in Malta fall under the responsibility of the Armed Forces of Malta who have all the search and rescue facilities.

Dr Borg Barthet: Did you at any point send any messages to anybody of receive any messages from anybody?

Mr J Sultana: I remember that after arriving at Luqa I asked the duty controller to request from the Tunisian authorities the information on the supplementary flight plan to know exactly the aircraft endurance in particular because that would have given a time as to when the aircraft would not have sufficient fuel to remain airborne.

Dr Borg Barthet: Apart from that?

Mr J Sultana: I know that when I was with the Director I think it was around that time when I was in the tower that the Director General was contacted as well by the Ministry and he informed them of what was going on and the Director General himself also asked at that time information from the Tunisian authorities regarding the passengers on board, their names.

Chairman: You handed in this manifest here, the signature that appears here is of a certain E. Mitchell who is signing as the aircraft captain.

Mr J Sultana: He is signing for the aircraft captain.

Chairman: Is he signing for the captain or was he the captain?

Mr J Sultana: That document is produced by Malta International Airport who give assistance to general aviation aircraft and who had recently opened up a service of assistance where they would carry out or do the necessary documentation clearances with immigration and police and I think that is the reason why the document is an MIA document and it is tiled with Customs and Police on behalf of the captain because they would do it themselves.

Captain F Sturmeir: Under this declaration I have two pilots, Mr Bartolo and Mr Wood.

Mr J Sultana: I think that is, I have seen the document and think that it would be an error in the sense that what should have been in the lower party. I think that the form would allow for aircraft which have a two pilot crew and that is why the form is made up that way but in this instance to our knowledge the aircraft only carried one pilot.

Captain F Sturmeir: so it appear that the document is not correct as in so far of this requisite.

Mr J Sultana: Sometimes with day to day documents, particularly with documents which are used very frequently errors particularly if you put information in one line or another or as spelling mistakes, these do occur.

Chairman: So in you opinion the search and rescue operation commenced at what time?

Mr J Sultana: If I remember and this will be confirmed eventually by Lieutenant Colonel Vassallo who no doubt would have the records as to the timings when the aircraft started flying. I think that the first aircraft started at about between ten and half past ten in the morning but this is because of the time it takes to organise oneself, secondly at the rescue operation centre the people who are organising the search had to gather all the information about the flight, were the flight was to take place, the last information about the flight, when the last messages were received so that one could engage roughly the possible area of were it should be searched. Between Malta and the FIR boundary there are about a hundred and twenty miles roughly and to search an area when you are flying, you are never exactly on a track, on a thin line, you could be anything up to ten, sometimes even twenty miles laterally from the track. So the area concerned to search is quite a large one if you consider the full track so the

people organising the search would have first to try to determine the most probable area of search to make it as small as possible and get that search down and then you start enlarging the areas, this is the normal procedure that is used by search and rescue mission co-ordinators.

Captain F Sturmeir: When the aircraft was overdue are the forces put in stand by immediately or are they only alerted after a few hours?

Mr J Sultana: The military were alerted, the local military, because the search and rescue centre was advised in the time period round about between six thirty and seven thirty. At about half past six when I got the call from Edmund Mangion I saying that he had declared an alert phase he would have advised the Headquarters of the Armed Forces were they have the control room. I advised Col. Vassallo at seven of quarter to seven so he is the number four senior military man and the only forces to my knowledge that were available locally for search and rescue, that could go out to some distance in the order of eighty miles are the Italian Armed Forces helicopters which are located here and they fall under the jurisdiction of the Armed Forces for operational purposes. So I would think that when the distress phase, because normally you would initiate the actual motion of the operation of search and rescue with the distress phase which was called about seven, so at that time people would have been called up to the airport, the military.

Captain F Sturmeir: What time was the aeroplane supposed to land in Malta, if it was on time?

Mr J Sultana: If I remember from the documents the flight time was declared as one hour fifty and the aircraft had left Djerba at quarter to four so it should have landed at around six o'clock, six hours five minutes but that was an estimation of course.

Captain F Sturmeir: This is GMT time?

Mr J Sultana: No I am talking now local time. The aircraft had declare three hours from the supplementary flight plan or three and half hours, if I remember correctly, it can be checked from the supplementary flight plan, this would mean that it‘s fuel would have finished round about, if I remember from the documentation it was given as six hours but I think I submitted the outbound flight plan.

Captain F Sturmeir: Did the aircraft carry Tech logs in your evidence that he left a log behind .

Mr J Sultana: No.

Captain F Sturmeir: In Djerba?

Mr J Sultana: And normally it is not required.

Captain F Sturmeir: There is supposed to be a Tech log isn‘t there and it is supposed to be left at outstations in case you have an accident so that there is documentation available, what was his departure, what did he have on board.

Mr J Sultana: There is no Tech log on this particular aircraft.

Captain F Sturmeir: Do we have to guess that he had fuel on board we do not know?

Mr J Sultana: As he declared.

Captain F Sturmeir: Are the fuel uplifts available?

Mr J Sultana: We did not contact Air Malta to check what fuel uplift was made prior to leaving Malta, the last fuel uplift.

Captain F Sturmeir: He you asked Tunis if he had fuel uplift and you had no reply so it was not followed up.

Chairman: We are talking about exhibit JS6. When you requested supplementary information on did the aircraft refuel.

Mr J Sultana: No I do not reckon I have seen any reply to this message, whether it was followed up I cannot say either. At the time this was, at seven o‘clock, at the time things were sort of racing to try and organise the services so it could have been that the follow up action was not made.

Chairman: But subsequently did you follow up on that fax, what was you further involvement.

Mr J Sultana: I think that the action was taken on the premise that the fuel that the aircraft had was as declared on the flight plan which is three hours fifty minutes which is double the time of the flight time, that would be the worst possible case in the sense that if the aircraft refuelled it would have a higher endurance. In any case we went for the worst possible case in that we decided that the aircraft had the lowest endurance. Captain F Sturmeir can understand all that but there is no documentation really, like all the other documentation, the numbers are wrong, the names are wrong or not correctly noted, how do I know that the fuel was correct on any of the flight plans so in order to achieve the rightness we need the fuel receipts and we need the Tech log of the aircraft or copies of it.

Mr J Sultana: What we can do is ask the local refuelling authorities to see whether they could provide the receipts for the fuel uplifting in Malta prior to the flight and to check with the Tunisian authorities whether the aircraft had refuelled in Tunisia but so far we haven't made such investigations.

Captain F Sturmeir: This particular air craft fall under an AOC, do you have the AOC?

Mr J Sultana: No this does not fall under the AOC.

Captain F Sturmeir: But it is under the public category.

Mr J Sultana: But the AOC applies only to aircraft which have a weight category greater than 6000 pounds and this aircraft was below that category.

Captain F Sturmeir: So why is it situated under the public category?

Mr J Sultana: It is registered under the public category because the aircraft could be used for pleasure flying around the Maltese Islands.

Captain F Sturmeir: So it could be flown for hire and reward.

Mr J Sultana: But only in the Maltese Islands and it could be used also hire out, or to be rented to other pilots, in which case it would need a public transport certificate.

Captain F Sturmeir: What is the requirement to fly under such a title, do they have an operations manual.

Mr J Sultana: No we accept they have the flight manual, the owner's manual.

Captain F Sturmeir: Can we have access to that please?

Mr J Sultana: We do not normally retain a copy in the department of the manual, we just ensure that there is one on the aircraft.

Captain F Sturmeir: So they are free to operate as they wish?

Mr J Sultana: In what sense?

Captain F Sturmeir: There is no legalities in there, is there? I find it a terrible mix up, same with the licenses either FAA and is not allowed to fly Maltese registration or vice versa. I do not follow. Are you saying that the flying was not correct flying to Djerba as it was only allowed to fly over the Maltese islands.

Mr J Sultana: No I am saying that the flight to Djerba would be considered to be legal, it was a private flight.

Captain F Sturmeir: Have you identified if it was a private flight?

Mr J Sultana: No we did not.

Captain F Sturmeir: So you still have to do that.

Mr J Sultana: Yes.

Question by Dr .... ; Yesterday from the certificate of air worthiness it transpired that the aircraft was certified practically from January 1995 until January of 1996, when the C of A was issued there must have been an audit check done by Bureau Veritas could you provide us with a copy of this audit?

Mr J Sultana: Yes. I can provide you here, first of all with the Export certificate of Air worthiness issued by the FAA for the aircraft, when the aircraft was brought to be registered, in this document there is also the aircraft bill of sale. I can provide a report from Bureau Veritas in which it is recommended, I do not have the report here but there is the classification report that is normally filed here, but I have the general report in which it is recommended that the aircraft be issued with the certificate of air worthiness.

Captain F Sturmeir: this aircraft war flown in a public category therefore it must have a certificate of maintenance we did not receive that yesterday.

Mr J Sultana: I will hand in the report, because it is bulky, the aircraft maintenance information is all in one pack.

Captain F Sturmeir: Does it have a certificate of maintenance on board when it flies?

Mr J Sultana: No it would be in the air craft documentation itself, that is in the maintenance log books which is on the ground.

Captain F Sturmeir:But under your navigation order does a certificate of maintenance to be carried in the aircraft as well for certification if anybody asks at outstations, are you certified.

Mr J Sultana: In the case of light aircraft it is not normally asked for and the maintenance certifications are those that are found in the log books, at least this has never been raised before.

Chairman: Does the air navigation order make any distinction as to the types of aircraft here.

Mr J Sultana: No.

Question: The certificate produced over here is practically the audit carried out by BV which I consider a preliminary audit which recommends that the certificate of air worthiness is issued from the 29th of November 1989, what we would like to see is the latest or rather the last copy of the report which was made prior to the issue of the last certificate of air worthiness.

Mr J Sultana: That I can produce in this document and I can produce here the Bureau Veritas, the actual report which is a report of the inspection, that is normally submitted to the department some time after the inspection of the aircraft and its documentation. In fact that report is dated 27th January 1995 and in my hand I have actual recommendation itself for the renewal issue of the certificate of air worthiness dated 18th January 1995, which is done by the air worthiness surveyor whilst he is, immediately after he inspects the aircraft, he does it in Malta. This recommendation which is rather brief is followed up with the report that I have just previously asked. So the aircraft has it‘s certificate of air worthiness renewed as from 17th January 1995 valid up to 1996.

Question: As regards to the maintenance carried out on the aircraft, was the aircraft approved to a particular maintenance schedule?

Mr J Sultana: Yes it would be included in the maintenance documentation.

Question: Would the DCA have a copy of the maintenance schedule?

Mr J Sultana: I think we have but I do not have it with me,

Question: We would like to see a copy of it. As regards the maintenance organisation, carrying out the maintenance on this particular aircraft would these approve the maintenance organisation or would it be left to the operator to choose his organisation?

Mr J Sultana: I do not recall, prior to coming hear, whether we had any particular communication directly to NCA Limited who was the person, or the organisation carrying out the maintenance, but in any case for the past two years the aircraft was maintained by NCA, it was inspected at NCA by the Bureau Veritas surveyor and if there was not direct approval in writing, it was a tacit approval, but I will have to check and see whether there was some written approval unit, But NCA has been approved by the Department to carry out maintenance even up to twin otter size aircraft, recently even for foreign customers.

Captain F Sturmeir: On international flights there are certain rules laid down in navigation orders, documents to be carried does that include the C of N.

Question: What do you mean by International flying?

Captain F Sturmeir: Once you leave the Maltese territory and once you have a crew declaration, we are not talking about private, I am asking part of navigation order on any flight do you require the C of A, the C of N, the C of R.

Dr Mizzi: My question is still what is an international flight for that purpose?

Captain F Sturmeir: Mr Sultana can explain what is an international flight?

Mr J Sultana: To reply to your question I do not recall exactly the documentation that is required.

Captain F Sturmeir:We have a ........ here I can provide it for you,

Mr J Sultana: Yes. Now in schedule eleven to the Air Navigation order for a flight which is carried out for international navigation, for a purpose other than transport or aerial work you only require the license for the aircraft radio station, the certificate of air worthiness of the aircraft and the flight crew licenses if any and the craft registration.

Captain F Sturmeir: Now we are still not certain if the plane was flown publicly of privately, but it is registered on a public category.

Mr J Sultana: Yes but that it is registered on a public category because if an aircraft is even rented out, it is leased to another pilot to fly it has to have a public transport category so it does not necessarily imply that the aircraft could be used for public transport flights anywhere in the world. If I want to go to the owner of an aircraft to hire an aircraft so that I can fly it myself the owner of that aircraft cannot hire that aircraft to me, the aircraft on its own so that I can fly it unless the aircraft is certified in the public transport category and that is one of the reasons why we have some aircrafts registered in the public transport category, for the purpose of pleasure flights being conducted in Malta, because some people want to use aircraft to take people around the Maltese Islands and that becomes than a public transport flight because then you need a commercial pilot license holder or a foreign license holder who has a validation to act commercial and that flight becomes a commercial flight but for that purpose a single engine aircraft is limited to such commercial operations in Malta only.

Captain F Sturmeir: It still has not answered my question, because on the CFA it is Public Transport category, if you would say public or private category than I can understand. That is why I say that there is such a mix up we do not know, is it public, is it private, was it flown in which category and I have only loose information.

Mr J Sultana: There is only one thing which determines whether the flight was conducted for public transport or for private purposes and that is whether the people that were carried on the aircraft paid for being transported or otherwise.

Captain F Sturmeir: Have you got any records of this particular aircraft being flow on public category previously and he didn’t have a.......,. on board then, it just does not exist.

Mr J Sultana: No I cannot.

Captain F Sturmeir: So we need of previous flights.

Mr J Sultana: But I do not know how we can get evidence of previous flights.

Captain F Sturmeir: Flight plans, tech logs, ATC.

Mr J Sultana: Does you can only

Captain F Sturmeir: It has an aircraft log as you said in the hanger, so this aircraft log must be maintained, if it doesn't have a tech log in the aircraft and this must be updated continuously so that it will show you were the aircraft was.

Captain F Sturmeir: Well I can produce the maintenance documentation and we will see from it, I haven't got it here.

Dr Mizzi: In a sense it is a good thing it was not on the aircraft because we can produce the certificate.

Captain F Sturmeir: All certificates are duplicated in case of an incidents or accidents it is the rule.

Dr Mizzi: In any case it is available, all I can say is how the absence of a certificate of maintenance aboard the aircraft can in any way produce the accident.

Captain F Sturmeir: I would like to make a correction there, if an aircraft is properly maintained it should carry a certificate of maintenance if it is in a public category. Now anybody would like to know has that aircraft been maintained to the respected maintenance schedule and that is why you have the certificate.

Dr Mizzi: Yes but we have witnesses to show that it was maintained.

Mr J Sultana: I can give to the Court, because we have in our possession the maintenance documents of the aircraft which we removed from the possession of NCA and since I am not an expert in engineering matters I would suggest that a person from NCA who has certified the work that was carried out on the aircraft he can explain exactly.

Chairman: First we will examine those documents then if need be we can call him as witness, but that is later on but first we must have copies of these records.

Mr J Sultana: Yes.

Chairman: Were you further involved apart from what you told us today?

Mr J Sultana: No, afterwards I only simply kept track of what was going on in the search and rescue activities and I assisted the Armed Forces officers in a general form not in any particular form.

Chairman: As far as you are aware was this aircraft's only flight to Djerba or were there previous flights to Djerba by the same aircraft?

MrJ Sultana: There were previous flights by this aircraft not only to Djerba but to other places. I do not recall exactly, by memory but we can produce.

Chairman: What I mean is, was it flying out regularly to Djerba?

Mr J Sultana: I wouldn't know.

Chairman: As far as you are aware were there any passenger tickets issued to the people who were carried on board such an aircraft?

Mr J Sultana: No I am not aware of any tickets, in fact I never even knew that the aircraft was flying on that particular night. I came to know that the aircraft was in Djerba and it was coming back only after being advised in the morning that the aircraft was due back from Djerba and no contact was made with it.

Dr Mizzi: Have you inquired regarding the pervious flights whether payment of certain passengers flying on those flights, 4 whether any payments were being made?

Mr J Sultana: Yes. In June or July of last year 1995 some officers within the department had come to me and told me that there was a possibility that abuses were taking place and I wrote to the Commissioner of Police to ask them to carry out investigations and the results of the investigations were passed to the Department about three or four weeks ago.

Dr Mizzi: Where there other case where people were asked whether they were paying for these flights and your answer was they did not.

Mr J Sultana: If I remember the police did on a number of occasions ask the pilot of this aircraft, on a couple of occasions whether the passengers that he was carrying were paying passengers and he replied in the negative.

Dr Mizzi: Have any passengers been approached by the police? Previous information before the accident.

Mr J Sultana: I remember there was one case were I personally asked the policy to check on a particular flight, a return flight from Catania whether the passenger that were being carried and if they were fair paying and the reply was in the negative to the police, as well.

Chairman: Can we have a copy of the report handed in to you by the police?

Mr J Sultana: Yes.

Dr. Mizzi: I have to consuIt the Attorney General about that.

Chairman: Obviously. Was a copy made available to your department?

Mr J Sultana: Yes. This is a communication from the Police to our Department. Now whether it is possible to issue it.

Chairman: Were you aware whether this particular aircraft or its company had any contract with any tour agencies or some other form of agencies.

Mr J Sultana: No. Dr M. Pace: Yesterday you exhibited Dok. JS 10 which is a certificate of air worthiness of the air craft number 66/1 issued by your department. The category for this air craft on this certificate clearly states, transport (passenger) could you please indicate to the Court where there are any limitations as regards area or (change to second tape)

Mr J Sultana: Document is issued under the air navigation order and in the air navigation order there is an article which issued Maltese licenses only is states that single engine aircraft are not be operated for public transport purposes beyond gliding distance from land and the pilot of an air craft although he has a public transport category should be aware of the limitations as imposed by the air navigation order itself, which is after all the legislation under which the certificate of air worthiness is issued.

Dr M Pace: Wouldn’t it make more sense to have on the certificate itself some form of restriction, clarification, for any inspector or anyone who may be investigating the documents. I have seen a certificate of air worthiness and sea worthiness and so on and the usually in brackets you would find the area specified, Maltese territorial waters, it would tell you the range, whether it is so many miles away and so, the number of passengers that can be carried, if any.

Mr J Sultana: The number of passengers that can be carried, for example it's on one single peace of paper it is normally impossible to include all the restrictions, limitations, conditions, etc. Apart from the certificate of air worthiness itself there are other limitations that can be imposed upon by the air navigation order itself. For example, the air navigation order, just to quote an example there is an article which says that you should not drop objects from air craft, except with the permission of the Director of Civil Aviation. Now you cannot include a condition in the certificate of air worthiness to say just that. The law itself contains certain limitation any you have to abide by them and there is no need to reproduce them in such a document.

Dr M Pace: That wasn‘t quite my question but on this point you mentioned the air navigation order, to the man in the street, to any normal person what would that document indicate?

Mr J Sultana: My reply to your question is that the certificate is not intended for the normal person, this certificate is intended for people who should know what they are doing, particularly if they are air crew and therefore the air crew should know what the certificate says, what is allows and what therefore the law allows.

Dr M Pace: What procedures if any are taken by the Department of Civil Aviation before a flight commences and when a flight or air craft returns, is there a procedure whereby documents are inspected, the number of passengers are counted and certain verifications to ensure compliance with the laws are made?

Mr J Sultana: No the only procedure that we have at Luqa and these have been so ever since I have been employed with the civil aviation department, the only checks that are carried out prior to flight being undertaken are those limited checks by the immigration police to see who goes on board the air craft. This procedure at one time was in force for all flights including flights carried out locally and only during the past five years we have had the police check only international flights. And for the international flights apart from the immigration police the customs people also require the documentation as in the terms of a general declaration that is who is being carried on the aircraft.

Dr M Pace: And the Customs officials and the police officials of course would be aware about the air navigation order and all the relative rules and regulations governing these?

Mr J Sultana: No they only look after the immigration interests and customs interest, they could not be expected to look after the air navigation order.

Dr M Pace: Is it correct to state Mr Sultana that the Department of Civil Aviation is the governing body in the interest of everyone, the public, in the interest of the pilots, in the interest of the owners of the air craft to insure that the matters regarding Civil Aviation, compliance with the necessary regulations is in fact being maintained? I am asking what procedures if any and what tasks?

Chairman: Please answer the question but do not repeat, you are putting a general question, procedures, and I believe the witness has given you an appropriate answer. Anyway answer the question

Mr J Sultana: As I said before the department does not carry out any specific checks prior to the departure of international or local flights the procedure is in force at Luqa airport have always been that the question was simply a matter for immigration and customs purposes.

Dr M Pace: Mr Sultana yesterday you told us what your function is, I believe you told us you are the Deputy Director General.

Mr J Sultana: I said sometimes I deputise for the Director General.

Dr M Pace: Director of Operations was it?

Mr J Sultana: Yes.

Dr M Pace: Do you also hold another task, are you the Chief Inspector of Accidents or who would that be?

Mr J Sultana: In Malta we have never had like in other states an accident investigation body which is permanently established and it has been the practice and procedure that the Ministry responsible for Aviation whenever there is the occasion to investigate any aircraft accident or incident, the Minister responsible nominates a Chief Inspector of Accidents together with any other Inspectors as necessary on the recommendations of the Director General and I have been nominated upon a couple of occasion, I do not remember exactly how many, they few fortunately, as Chief Inspector. On this particular occasion for this incident I was also appointed Chief

Inspector but at the same time that I was appointed Chief Inspector the Ministry also authorised the setting up of the Board of Enquiry and the function there under the terms of the Civil Aviation Act, my function practically was one of assisting as and when necessary and do not carry out any independent investigations and in fact I have not carried out any investigations on my own. I have for this particular case on occasion been asked by the Attorney General to obtain information which he thought would be relevant to the case and I did this on his instructions.

Dr M Pace: You were present yesterday when Mr Mangion was testifying, the Air Traffic Controller who I believe was on duty. Is there anything that you wish to add or clarify his deposition, is there anything you do not agree with?

Mr. J Sultana: I can only express an opinion on what was said rather, because there were so many questions put to Mr Mangion who I feel could necessarily have complete information or the necessary information.

Dr M Pace: This is why I am asking you because it was indicated that maybe you would know the answers to the questions.

Mr J Sultana: Not necessarily myself. Incidentally I would also like to submit a replacement copy of the chart which I handed yesterday, one because it was prepared at more at easy rather then hurriedly as it was done yesterday. I have indicated also on the chart air routes which exist close to that area and it has got the information that was requested yesterday. The copy that I gave yesterday belongs to the Armed Forces personnel who require it for their own purposes because they have got some jottings of their own on another matter altogether not connected with this case. So if the court agrees I will present the chart.

Chairman: It you do not find any objection we can replace this chart by the other chart.

Members: Yes.

Chairman: Dok, JS is being replaced by a fresh and similar document.

Mr J Sultana: On the chart you will find exactly the same markings that were pencilled yesterday plus some other additional information.

Chairman: Have you given us an indication on this chart now?

Mr J Sultana: The route as was marked yesterday, I have marked FIR boundaries of the three states and I have included the air ways in that area.

Dr M Pace: On the chart that you have exhibited have you indicated were the suspected location of the incident may have taken place?

Mr J Sultana: No these are not on this chart, this chart was meant to be a part of the introduction to say were the flight was intended, what type of air space the air craft was flying in and the closeness also to the FIR boundaries with Tripoli. I am positive and in fact certain that the Armed Forces when they will present their information as to how the search and rescue activities were undertaken they will give exact locations as to the points, areas of search, etc.

Dr M Pace: So given the known factors given here, for example the time during which there was radio contact, the speed of the aircraft, the whether conditions, the route, more or less you have not even the vaguest idea where this incident may have happened, assuming,

Mr J Sultana: The search and rescue people will give precise answers on these points.

Chairman: Maybe these questions will be answered after we hear that tape,

Dr M Pace: I am just asking if they have any idea, weather they have identified an approximate. DME was mentioned, 20 miles from DME could you clarify a bit more?

Mr J Sultana: The DME distance was indicated in the transcript which we obtained from Tunis and it refers to the distance of the aircraft as reported from the Djerba DME which can be located simply here with a compass.

Captain F Sturmeir: I think we will probably never find out what was the actual

position but I still believe the tape may give us some answers, this is the only evidence which we have, or witnesses and I would like to have this tape to be taken to Farnbourgh for a proper read out because they are the only people who have the best equipment available with the minute information available of sound or distress in any other way.

Mr J Sultana: You are talking about the tape at the Tunisian ATC?

Captain F Sturmeir: take it as that because this may really tell us, if it tells us nothing its nothing but we must not fail in that, because I do believe if the pilot was under distress, either to technical failure or mechanical failure or due to his own incapacitation his speech will identify on the tape.

Mr J Sultana: Then in that case if you excuse my interruption one should not even ask to examine a copy of the tape, one should examine the original.

Captain F Sturmeir: If you let me finish, I would like to have the original tape in order not to get damaged. You must understand that this tape was read by French people, there was an English conversation, for French language people it may have been identified by French or there may be some Maltese words in it which are not identified. We do not know?

Mr J Sultana: We have asked the Tunisian's today whether the tapes are still available and if so whether we could be given a copy of the tape as we had been asked, it doesn't mean that we can ask them again to send us the original.

Captain F Sturmeir:l would like to have it to sound and listen, if we may damage, therefore I would like to have it stored, confiscated when it arrives here and driven straight to Farnbourgh, they are the best people in the world. Whenever an accident happens does are the people who are good in the field and you can rely on that.

Dr M Pace: What I wanted to propose is that I think that this request should be formalised by the Board, I do not think that it was done yesterday, I think the Board should formally request the Attorney General to obtain, but I do not think that it was verbalised yet.

Chairman: It is a Board of Enquiry and it is in the interest of all and sundry that we get all the pertinent information, that is why I am asking the Attorney General so please take note of what Mr Sturmeir is requesting. What Dr Borg Barthet is asking do you know of this organisation that Mr Sturmeir is saying?

Mr J Sultana: Yes we have contact with them. The problem is whether the Tunisians would be willing to hand the tapes.

Captain F Sturmeir: I think they would not have other choice which we do not have to bring up here and I think is strong enough to convey that message.

MrJ Sultana: In my humble opinion it is better that such a request, rather than be made at the Department level, could be made at Government level that is through Foreign Affairs.

Chairman: But now in the circumstances do you want this request to be more formalised. Please take note: The Board of Enquiry is requesting that the original tape is allowed to be used and sent to the respective authorities for a reading and we intend to send that tape to the Air Accident Investigation Branch, Department of Transport

in Farnbourgh.

Dr M Pace: We wouldn't agree more but I fear that we will have a legal problem regarding the jurisdiction, because if this incident actually took place within the Tunisian air space of territory they may have there own requirements about having an enquiry, about anything regarding this incident and therefore it may be necessary either to obtain a loan of this original tape temporarily, it will be replaced, or a copy, or it may be necessary to hear this tape in Tunisia, whatever the case may be.

Chairman: Let's not jump the can, let us see whether first of all this is possible. First of all we have to have answers to the queries that were put by the DCA. WE ask the DCA to see if there is copy available and whether the Tunisian authorities can still confirm that the original is available. We must have those answers first, please. Let us go step by step. When available we must have an expert analysis of this tape.

Dr M Pace: And if there were utterings in Maltese I think we would have to send someone who is knowledgeable in Maltese just in case.

Chairman: Any further questions?

Dr M Pace: Are you aware whether any enquiry did in fact take place in Tunisia regarding this incident?

Mr J Sultana: I am not aware, all I know at this time is that when we requested certain information, like whether a report from the Tunisian authorities, if I remember that was the document, we received a reply from the Chief Inspector of Accidents in Tunis and I have also been instructed by the Attorney General to ask, which I did, the Tunisian authorities as to whether they have carried out an investigation and it so whether a report is available and whether they could send us a copy of that report. This was done as part of the fax which was sent this morning.

Radar Capabilities

Dr M Pace: Regarding the radar range, yesterday Mr Mangion indicated that we have a capacity of around 40 nautical miles, to my surprise yesterday there was an inauguration of the new radar equipment at your department and I believe that there was also a write up specifying that the previous radar equipment which you had a two hundred miles range, one of them the primary or the secondary, and both radar types were in fact indicated. Could you elucidate on this point?

Mr J Sultana: At the time of the incident we had two radar in operation and one under test. The radar under test is the one that you just read about in the papers as being inaugurated, the other two radar that were available, one is an ex-Royal Air Force old radar which is a 1960s model and which the British Services left in 1979 and this is a primary radar which means that it operates on the basis of echoes that it receives from the air craft, that is the air craft is illuminated by the radar from the ground and you get an echo of that pulse and the radar picks it up. It is an old radar and although it has a sixty to seventy mile range it is normally operated at Luqa on a thirty mile range because it is used to look after the approaches to the airport to the airfield of Luqa.

We also have and at the time of this incident it was also operating a radar which is located at Dingli and which has got a primary radar and a secondary surveillance radar. This radar was installed in 1985/87 and it has been operational since 1988. With the primary radar which works in exactly the same manner as the other old radar which I have mentioned it can detect targets out to about 200/210 miles and it has also got in conjunction with it a secondary radar which depends on the operation of a transponder on board the air craft. This transponder system works by the secondary surveillance on the ground transmitting radios signals and interrogating electronically the aircraft and the aircraft replying to those interrogations and with the reply that is received on the ground you can determine the range and bearing of the air craft, with the Dingli radar you can determine the air craft position independently using two systems a primary radar and a secondary surveillance radar bearing in mind that to use the secondary surveillance radar you must have an operating transponder on the air craft, If you do not have an operating transponder on the air craft it means that the Dingli radar would be able to pick up targets on the basis of the primary radar alone. So it becomes very similar in operation to the old approach radar. About 60 to 70 miles. Now the new radar has a range of 200/210 miles, the operating range that is the place at which you can pick out targets depends a lot as was said yesterday, on the height and distance of the target. And it also depends to some extent to the atmospheric conditions, sometimes the atmospheric conditions could disturb the radar signals but the long range radar that we have at Dingli would probably and I am hear speaking to the best of knowledge, it would be much better to ask operating controllers who actually see aircraft on a day to day basis on their radar.

Chairman: Can you specify the names of the persons who are in control?

Mr J Sultana: Perhaps this question could be asked to the Senior Air Traffic Controller Officer who may be able to elaborate further, Major Lawrence Fenech, but normally at the range of 120 miles to get an air craft on radar at 10,000 feet it is a bit difficult.

Captain F Sturmeir: On this particular morning of the event was the radar watch on?

Mr J Sultana: Yes and on the basis of the ATC log which was handed in there are entries stating U/S Nil that means in the ATC terminology that navigational aids and communication facilities.

Captain F Sturmeir: Was there a lot of clatter on this particular morning, because of the whether conditions, do you have a satellite picture of it for our references?

Mr J Sultana: For the satellite picture for the whether in the zone will be produced eventually by Major Mifsud who is our Senior Meteorologist. As regards the clatter on the radar on the radar, the Dingli radar will not show any clatter because that is a synthetic display were as the approach radar would show clatter. As was mentioned yesterday that radar is normally operated within a range of thirty miles so if the aircraft did not get within that range,

Captain F Sturmeir: So you do not know if the air craft was on a squawk at the time, like we spoke in a local area 2000 for identification. Was it on or off.

Mr J Sultana: From the evidence that was given yesterday by Mr Mangion the air craft was never given a squawk, at least that is my recollection.

Captain F Sturmeir: When he left Malta the night before was he on a squawk?

Mr J Sultana: I do not know that has to be asked to the controller on duty.

Captain F Sturmeir: Could we have evidence on that please, I would like to know if a squawk system was actual in operation or not.

Mr J Sultana: We can only ask the controller on duty we do not have the tapes of the departing flights. The tapes have only information containing up to twenty four hours and it was not kept. At the time we did not think that it would be necessary to examine any material on the departing flight since there was no problems so to speak on the departing flight. The incident that happened on the incoming flight was the one that concerned us and we immediately impounded the tape that contained that evidence. I have checked recently to see whether we had in fact that same tape, whether it has got any material on the outbound flight and unfortunately it does not.

Captain F Sturmeir: You said it was erased?

Mr J Sultana: It was recycled.

Captain F Sturmeir: But you said you looked at it and you could not find anything?

Mr J Sultana: We looked, I asked our officials to look again at the tape that we impounded that is the tape that contains all the information on the incident in particular for the time when the exchanges of communications started to take place between Tunis and Malta on the lack of contact but we couldn’t go backwards.

Captain F Sturmeir: see in the transcripts between Tunisia and yourselves that there were three aircrafts over flying, one over the Libyan air space a Brussels one a Sabena and a Moroccan one. I cannot see the transcript were they asked for any assistance in respect of the whether conditions around the area or for relay on 1 21 5 an emergency frequency.

Mr J Sultana: Well on this point I can only answer as giving my opinion rather than what was actually done. But considering that the aircraft would be high flyers it was still practically night time I doubt how they could have been of assistance. In any case the air craft would.

Captain F Sturmeir:Their range of sight for navigation is much better than yours was on the ground. Because they are 30,000 feet plus so it would have been possible? But I see that there was no communication and nobody had asked to help in any way. What I am saying here is that if there was no ARB on board and they got out of the aeroplane and activated it, I do not know what equipment they had really, they could have planted that message on the air with their transponders with their own 1 21 5 frequency, with the audio.

Mr J Sultana: They were not asked.

Captain F Sturmeir: see here that there was no direction in any way that there was an air plane lost and asking for assistance code.

Mr J Sultana: It doesn‘t result that there was a request for them to listen out.

Captain F Sturmeir: wanted to know if the transcript is correct and if there was any information which was not laid down.

Mr J Sultana: We have to ask the question to the person who made the transcript and as far as I know in the transcript that we have submitted so far it contains only the communications between Malta control and the Tunis control there is something with Lampedusa, there is nothing with air craft. The reason is that normally they are recorded on different channels.

Captain F Sturmeir: Does the aircraft have two VHF or he listens out on a second box on 1 21 57

Mr J Sultana: I do not know how he operated.

Captain F Sturmeir: Was he equipped with two VHF?

Mr J Sultana: He was equipped with two VHF yes.

Board: I think what Captain Sturmeir is actually referring to are there actually set procedures within the air traffic control when a similar circumstance like this if set procedures on what they actually should do, when like these for example two aircraft which were over flying at that time, we are relying over her what we think the air traffic controller might have done at that time.

Mr J Sultana: In that case I think the question should be put to the Senior Air Trafhc Control Officer who issued the instruction, I am not aware whether he has instructions issued to that effect or the department has instructions issued to that effect to controllers. We have to ask him and if necessary check. All I know is that the air traffic control instructions is a volume about that thick, it contains instructions to controllers on a multitude of things, how they should carry out various tasks and I duties and I am not current with it so I cannot reply to that question.

Captain F Sturmeir: If it had an OBE and it was activated and those airlines openly on route they would have identified the oral tone and the precision of the air craft during the occurrence. Now we here it may times we here it, it is a procedure that we quote if you have an ARB going off on this frequency. ljust thought was it mentioned in any way or examined?

Mr J Sultana: All I can say is that today I contacted Mr Alfred Fenech of NCA to check from his knowledge as having worked on the aircraft whether the ELP that was being indicated as being available on the aircraft, whether it was a fixed type or not. I never looked at the aircraft myself so.

Captain F Sturmeir: You said only today?

Mr J Sultana: Yes and I do not recollect asking at the time personally but the information that I got was that the EIT was of the fixed type that is fixed to the air craft and to my knowledge, my limited engineering knowledge, this type of EIT is only useful as far as I know in case of an accident on land, where it is activated automatically if you have a crash but obviously it is still on the ground. So if something happened to the aircraft in the sea and the EIT would have been tracked down underneath the sea because the aircraft sank, I do not know.

Captain F Sturmeir: Is it a rule to fly with an EIT over the sea?

Mr J Sultana: No it is not a regulation, there is no laid down rules.

Chairman: Let me put you one question, a layman's question. In such incidents does the DCA have a set of procedure of whoever is involved so that immediately he contacts who should investigate or who should take care of this and that, is there any proper set of procedure what is to be done when an accident or a possibility of a plane going missing what should be done?

Mr J Sultana: No. We have to take it as it comes. We do not have set procedures or check lists. Probably it would be useful to have checklists and go along with them but there isn't.

Dr M Pace: Isn't Malta a member of the ICAO, International Civil Aviation Organisation?

Mr J Sultana: Yes.

Dr M Pace: And would the ICAO not have such procedures which are communicated to you which you can follow and so on?

Mr J Sultana: There are no set procedures on how to operate. This is a matter which is left entirely up to the national authorities. The International Civil Aviation Organisation would lay down guide lines for states on which to set about in having there own procedures. But I think there is nothing as far as I know that binds you to do them so it is a question of national organisation.

Dr M Pace: Was any communication received by your department or by the authorities concerning the incident, concerning what may have happened, concerning news of what may have happened and was any distress signal in fact reported which was picked up by some other air craft subsequent to this incident some hours later of even a day or so later.

Mr J Sultana: I would rather that this question be put to the search and rescue people who would have all documentation and you would get a more precise answer.

Dr M Pace: Are you aware of any communication?

Mr J Sultana: I think at some stage there was a report that was received about a distress call but as far as I know that was eventually disproved to be, to my knowledge, there was some misconstruing of messages or what have you.

Dr M Pace: This was reported by whom, do you know?

Mr J Sultana: I do not remember. There is something and that will be replied by the search and rescue operations.

Dr M Pace: Regarding the period during which the aircraft was in communication with the Tunisian authorities, the traffic controller Mr Mangion was quite categorical in his evidence stating that, and he repeated this and he was on duty at the time, that the Tunisian authorities informed him that there was only contact on take off. Subsequently when you exhibited a copy of the transcripts of the messages it results that there were communications for a number of minutes. In fact I believe the last communication was, there is doubt about the very last one which I believe was at 4.10 h ours and which should have been exactly the points at which the aircraft should have reached the FIR boundary. I believe originally it was indicated by the pilot that he should reach the FIR boundary at 04.20 hours and in actual fact there was a communication at that time and not withstanding negative replies, in the minutes previously there is a reply recorded in the transcript stating uniform which yesterday you explained wasn't very clear and previous question did not make much sense. I understand that the department of Civil Aviation issued a statement regarding the incident on the 3rd of December which was transmitted via the Department of Information. Could you l confirm exactly the contents of this communication.

Mr J Sultana: I have not seen the statement issued by the DOI.

Chairman: Dr Pace if you are referring to a particular statement and if you have a copy of such a statement.

Dr M Pace: I do not have it here.

Chairman: So let us leave it for another time. I think it is only fair that you should show a copy to the witness so that the witness can confirm or otherwise.

Mr J Sultana: I can state right know that I have not seen, I do not remember seeing any statement issued by the DOI on the incident. I do not exclude the possibility that I read it in the papers, I do not know whether it was.

Chairman: Mr Sultana let us not deli on this question. Another question.

Captain F Sturmeir: I have been carefully studying the transcript and at 0408 and than at 0410 after continues calling. The controller said "Braco Uniform Roger you change with Malta so there must have been a transmission which was not noted here. Can you see know that we have to have the tapes.

Mr J Sultana: I can only comment. I haven't heard the tapes

Captain F Sturmeir:So there must have been a transmission in whatever tongue or language it may be. But was he clearing over to Malta‘s air

Mr J Sultana: It could be that but I could equally comment that the controller in Tunisia could have told the aircraft, seeing that he did not hear from him, contact Malta.

Captain F Sturmeir: But he just said Roger, he must have had contact in order to say that I understood you.

Mr J Sultana: That is why yesterday I said the message does not make much sense because once you use the word Roger you are saying I have received you message and understood it.

Captain F Sturmeir: Now where is that message?

Mr J Sultana: Now you can rightly say were is that message. All I can say is that there are quite a number of people and would not put it past a controller who are not speaking there own language to sometimes use a word not in the proper context.

Chairman: We will find out eventually. Do you mind I have one question. When you are conducting incident investigations do you normally follow any particular international procedures or recommendations, as a department?

Mr J Sultana: What we normally do is we pull out the Annex 13 on Accident Investigations and go along with what there is and we pull out other manuals which are useful guidance.

Chairman: You follow Annex 13 that is the recommended International procedure?

Mr J Sultana: Yes but again in our experience in actual investigations fortunately it is practically nil and the incidents we have had were a few incidents which are relatively small and we normally handle them ourselves but it is the practice within the department that when we have any major accident we would call for an expertise such as from the Accident Investigation Branch. In this particular case were you really have no material evidence it would not have made much sense to say because an air craft has disappeared with the possible loss of life it is all in the possibility and we never thought that we would need to go to an Accident Investigation Body which is a professional and in any case we were also pre-empted from doing it with the request for the holding of the public enquiry. Even if we had the material time to ask for people from abroad according to the air navigation regulations any investigation would have been stopped because of the enquiry. So to a particular extent I can only comment, the holding up of the enquiry itself has meant that there was such a loss of time that if the investigations could have been done earlier it could even have been possible that some material which eventually has been lost would not have been lost. This is all I can say.  Captain F Sturmeir looked at Air Navigation Orders supplement of Aircraft Accidents and Incidents 1956, do you think it is outdated?

Mr J Sultana: Dr. Fenech is laughing. I can only state my opinion. The 1956 Accident Investigation Regulations the only thing which is old about them is the date, it is probably the paper on which they are written but for all intents and purposes I think the contacts, if one really has to examine them vis a vis there equivalent in the United Kingdom our law is based on the UK, if you look at them they are practically identical, obviously they are not I identical in the sense that there is written Governor which should be read as Minister etc. substantially they are the same. The only major differences, if I remember that are included is those that deal with the rights of persons who can be involved in the investigation. But otherwise substantially they are the same.

Chairman: Do you think that we can adjourn.

Captain F Sturmeir: Mr Sultana just a few documents which I would like to see in the next sitting, it I may please, that is first of all the satellite picture and also a report from your Met Office of this particular morning, a sigmet chart and a forecast. It you cannot please convey the message to the men, I do not know the men.

Mr J Sultana: If I understand correctly you have asked for the whether situation at the time in terms of satellite pictures. We can produce right now a copy of the whether report or the whether briefing that was given to the pilot prior to departure from Malta and we have obtained from the Tunisian authorities a copy of the whether briefing that was prepared, but I think that we have given already.

Captain F Sturmeir: Another thing do you have any records of the licensing renewal for this particular person, his medial renewal, his audit checks by the French in any way.

Mr J Sultana: I have stated yesterday that the only records that we have, because this person was not licensed by the Department, we have the computer print out and we obtained it immediately after the incident from the Federal Aviation Authorities.

Captain F Sturmeir: So anybody can fly Malta as long as he has a license?

Mr J Sultana: Yes privately, for private purposes.

Captain F Sturmeir: Does this not seem strange that there is not control? How do you know that his medical was renewed?

Mr J Sultana: We expect that the pilots know what they are doing as well, they have a legal responsibility for that purpose.

Captain F Sturmeir: But you have no file, documentation nothing what so ever?

Mr J Sultana: No. In fact there are a number of Maltese pilots of whom I have heard, not necessarily whom I know who have private pilot licenses and they fly and they for example do not have their air craft so they have to go to someone who owns an aircraft and the owner checks whether they are licensed.

Captain F Sturmeir: So pilots on these islands have not got a Maltese license?

Mr J Sultana: Correct. Validations of equivalent licenses issued by other state  authorities.

Dr M Pace: On this point Mr Chairman yesterday I was informed that the pilot had a medical about a month before I shall try and procure a copy of this document and have it exhibited.

Chairman: Let's follow procedures then you can provide any witnesses you want. At a later stage.

Dr ..... : I would like to naturally cross examine the witness at another stage?

Chairman: Definitely, everyone has a right to cross examine him, re-cross examine him. So we are adjourning for the 18th June at 2.30 that is a Tuesday.

Mr J Sultana: I do not know whether my presence will be required but during that week I shall be abroad on duty so if possible.

Chairman: No problem we can produce other witnesses, we do not I have to lose that sitting, you can be produced at some later sitting.

Transcribed By

I declare that I have transcribed truthfully and faithfully and to the best of my ability and knowledge the transcription of this tape.

Antonia Rina Mamo


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