Search icon


20th Oct 2021

Pilot who crashed plane that killed Emiliano Sala was ordered not to fly

Daniel Brown

He admitted to attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation

The pilot who crashed a plane that killed football player Emiliano Sala was ordered not to fly, a court has heard.

Sala, 28, was killed on January 21 2019 after the aircraft he was a passenger in crashed into the English Channel while flying to Britain to complete a £15 million move from French side Nantes to then-Premier League side Cardiff City.

The body of the Argentine striker was recovered from the seabed the following month, but neither the body of pilot David Ibbotson, 59, nor the plane wreckage were ever recovered.

It has now been revealed that Fay Keely said she had asked that David Ibbotson did not fly her plane after being told of previous infringements, as per the BBC.

David Henderson, the plane’s operator and person responsible for choosing appropriate pilots, is currently on trial at Cardiff Crown Court, accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft.

Mr Henderson denies the charge of endangering the safety of an aircraft, but admitted to attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

Ms Kelly stated that she purchased the Piper Malibu aircraft in 2015 through her family’s trust, Cool Flourish Ltd.

She said that in 2018, she had told Mr Henderson that Mr Ibbotson should not fly the aircraft again after she was informed of two infringements by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that had occurred while he was flying.

Additionally, she discovered that – despite her initial instructions not to – Henderson had hired Mr Ibbotson on another occasion a month later, this time to pilot a flight that was carrying her sister.

She said: “Later on in the year, in August, he tried to contact me while I was on holiday. He was due to fly my sister on a trip and was going to be piloting himself.

“I found out after the event that he was unavailable and had asked David Ibbotson to fly instead of him.”

“He allowed that to happen without my permission,” she added.

When Ms Kelly was asked by defence counsel Stephen Spence QC if she had told Henderson not to hire Mr Ibbotson again, she said: “No. As far as I was concerned I had made my feelings clear that he shouldn’t be flying the aircraft.”

Mr Ibbotson was hired to fly the plane carrying Sala between Nantes and Cardiff because Mr Henderson was away with his wife in Paris.

This is despite, as the court has already heard, the fact that Mr Ibbotson was not allowed to fly at night, did not hold a commercial pilot’s licence and that his rating to fly the Piper Malibu had expired.

Related links: