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Charges brought over Sala plane crash

Charges brought over Sala plane crash

Saturday 17 October 2020

Charges brought over Sala plane crash

A 66-year-old man has been charged by the Civil Aviation Authority with several offences connected to the plane crash north of Guernsey which killed both its pilot, Dave Ibbotson, and the Argentinian footballer, Emiliano Sala.

David Henderson, who was originally due to fly the plane, faces two charges in relation to the crash, including acting in a "reckless or negligent" manner which was "likely to endanger" the aircraft.

The footballer went missing in January 2019 as he travelled from his former club Nantes FC to Cardiff, where he had just signed a record deal, but the plane went off-radar over the Channel Islands.

After an extensive search and rescue operation, the wreckage of the Piper Malibu aircraft he had been flying in with pilot Dave Ibbotson was found under the sea, torn into three parts but held together by electrical cables.


Pictured: A map showing the final movements of the aircraft.

Despite a crowdfunded deep dive operation in the area the plane ditched, Mr Ibbotson's body was never found.

The official CAA report into the incident concluded that the plane split apart in the sky as its pilot lost control during a manual turn made at too high a speed. At 20:16, on the 21 January in what was believed to be a manoeuvre to avoid poor weather, the aircraft was lost from radar and struck the sea 22 nautical miles north-west of Guernsey. 

Overall, three factors were given as to why the crash happened: the pilot's loss of control, the aircraft breaking up because of the turn executed at speeds "significantly in excess of its design", and the pilot being affected from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

The incident also prompted the CAA to launch a 'Legal to Fly' campaign, to crackdown on so-called 'grey charters'.


Pictured: Tributes to footballer Emiliano Sala, who was on his way to Cardiff when his plane crashed. 

Richard Stephenson, Director at the CAA, said: “The UK Civil Aviation Authority has commenced a prosecution of David Henderson for offences associated with the fatal light aircraft accident over the English Channel in January 2019.  

“It will be inappropriate for the CAA to say anything further until the case is concluded."

The charges are:

  1. On the 18th and 19th of January 2019, acted in a reckless/negligent manner likely to endanger N264DB (Articles 240, 256 and Part 4 of Schedule 13 of the Air Navigation Order 2016);

  2.  On the 21st of January 2019, attempted to cause N264DB to discharge a passenger in the UK (Section 1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981, Articles 250, 256 and Part 3 of Schedule 13 of the Air Navigation Order 2016)

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