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Trial of pilot who arranged fatal Sala flight begins

Trial of pilot who arranged fatal Sala flight begins

Monday 18 October 2021

Trial of pilot who arranged fatal Sala flight begins


The trial of the man who arranged the fatal final flight of a Premier League footballer and his pilot, which crashed near Alderney two-and-a-half years ago, has begun.

The single-engine Piper Malibu carrying Argentinian striker Emiliano Sala from Nantes to his new football club in Cardiff and David Ibbotson, who was flying the plane, ditched into the sea in January 2019.

The wreckage was located and Mr Sala’s body was recovered from the seabed the following month, but Mr Ibbotson was never found.

David Henderson (66), a pilot from Yorkshire who was originally due to fly the plane, was charged with acting in a “reckless/negligent manner” likely to endanger the safety of an aircraft, and attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation in October 2020. 

This morning, he pleaded guilty to the second charge, but still faces trial for the first, which relates to the fact that Mr Ibbotson had been contracted to fly the aircraft despite not holding a valid commercial pilot’s licence at the time, and that he was not “competent to fly” in the type of bad weather forecast for the journey.

ibbotsonsala.jpg

Pictured: Pilot David Ibbotson, who flew the Piper Malibu plane.

The trial before High Court judge Mr Justice Foxton Cardiff Crown Court is scheduled to last for two weeks.

Mr Sala's family will not be attending the trial in person, according to lawyer Daniel Machover.

An inquest into Mr Sala's death has been postponed until after the trial. It is currently scheduled for 14 February 2022.

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