A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 has ended up in a sticky situation in Malta today, after it plowed into a line of parked bowsers parked on the apron. It appears that the towbar snapped while the aircraft was being maneuvered, leaving it freewheeling across the airfield.
A snapped towbar
Earlier today, a Ryanair aircraft ended up in a collision with a fuel tanker while being maneuvered at Malta Airport. The incident appears to have been caused by a towbar snapping while the aircraft was being moved.
The 737 continued to roll after the towbar failure, ending up crashing into a line of fuel tankers parked at the side of the apron. Three were reportedly hit, although the damage to the aircraft itself appears minimal.
Earlier on Friday at Malta airport: "A @Boeing 737-800 @Ryanair was being towed. Tow bar broke and aircraft rolled into fuel tanker. Three were hit.” Photos & info from a friend. @JacdecNew @AviationSafety pic.twitter.com/hhEXa9jOkv
— Aeronews (@AeronewsGlobal) April 2, 2021
Malta International Airport confirmed the incident in a statement, saying,
Malta International Airport can confirm that an incident involving an aircraft being towed occurred earlier today, at 11:29AM. No passengers were on board the aircraft in question, and no injuries have been reported as a result of this incident.
Malta International Airport’s Rescue and Fire Fighting team was dispatched to the scene immediately, taking control of the area in question. The aerodrome was temporarily closed and reopened again to flight operations at 12:20PM.
Sime the incident took place, a number of flights have already operated from Malta. Lufthansa’s LH1276 from Frankfurt was diverted to Catania, while Tunisair’s UG1300 from Tunis returned to origin. The airport warned passengers to expect some delays.
A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 registered 9H-QCJ hit 3 SkyTanking bowsers on Apron 1 while being towed. A spanking new Global 7500 of Vistajet was parked on Apron 1 at the time of the accident. It appears the aircraft careened forward after towbar snapped from position. pic.twitter.com/v4BC4VD9CK
— Malta Aviation Outlook (@MaltaAvOutlook) April 2, 2021
Ryanair’s foothold in Malta
Malta is a key location for Ryanair as the home of its subsidiary Malta Air. The airport will soon see the arrival of its first 737 MAX 8-200 aircraft, as the type was recently certified in the US for use. Last week, the first Malta Air-liveried MAX was spotted in Seattle, preparing for flight tests ahead of entry into service.
For now, however, Malta Air flights are operated by Ryanair’s aircraft, hence the familiar blue and yellow plane seen at Malta today. So far, Ryanair has shifted 120 737-800s in total across to its subsidiary. Planespotters.net notes that four 737 MAX 8 are imminently to arrive for the carrier.
Malta Air is currently the second-largest of Ryanair’s subsidiaries, second in size only to the Irish Ryanair DAC, which holds 254 aircraft. The other subsidiaries include Buzz, which is set to receive 54 aircraft to start with, 46 from the Ryanair fleet and eight 737 MAX 8 initially. Ryanair Sun, based in Poland, holds 46 aircraft, while Ryanair UK has just two.
Lauda Europe makes up the total of the 451 aircraft currently in the group, flying 29 Airbus A320s from its base in Malta. The aircraft were moved to the Maltese register after Ryanair’s acquisition of the carrier and the closure of its Vienna base, following a row over minimum airfares being proposed by the Austrian government.