The road bordering the airport runway presented an unusual sight yesterday as an old BAC 1-11 airliner minus its wings was trudged along from the airport to the fire safety school at Hal Far.

The 20-ton fuselage with rear engines and high tail was towed across the airport runway from the MedAvia hangar, then lifted over the fence onto the road where it was pulled to the former airfield at Hal Far where the International Safety Training Centre is based.

It was a slow operation that needed significant planning. Because the aircraft is about 35 m long, seven metres wide (without wings) and seven metres high, traffic signs, overhead cables and other roadside obstacles had to be removed as the aircraft approached and were then reinstated.

The aircraft - with a man sitting on its tailplane, was pulled along at walking pace, escorted by the police as astonished bystanders looked on.

The aircraft, with wings re-attached, will be used to train cabin crew, firemen and safety officers from European and North African airlines. It will not be set on fire.

The ISTC is a subsidiary of Alberta Fire, Safety and Security Ltd and one of its core activities is training firemen. The ISTC also conducts fire and safety training in desert camps in Libya and plans to open a branch in Algeria later this year.

Although yesterday's event was a rarity, elderly people will recall how the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm used to use the same road - which later became the Safi Strip - to pull aircraft between Hal Far and Luqa airdromes, notably before the second world war.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us