Tragedy across the English Channel: Sala’s death flight pilot had flaws

Tragedy across the English Channel
Pilot of Sala’s death flight knew of shortcomings

It has been three and a half years since Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala’s plane crashed over the English Channel. But there are still new details of the tragedy. A recorded telephone conversation now shows that the pilot, who also died, was aware of the defects in the machine before departure.

The pilot of Argentine football professional Emiliano Sala, who died in a private plane crash three years ago, was aware of the machine’s defects. This is apparent from a recorded telephone conversation by the British broadcaster BBC.

In it, the pilot David Ibbotson, who also died in the accident over the English Channel, the day before the accident about significant defects to the aircraft. He said, among other things, that he heard a loud bang on the outward flight. “This plane belongs in the hangar,” he said. He usually keeps his life jacket between the seats, but this time he’ll put it on right away, Ibbotson said.

The pilot is said to have been licensed neither for commercial flights nor for night flights. The businessman who organized the flight with the single-engine plane has therefore already been sentenced to 18 months in prison for endangering the safety of an aircraft.

Sala was on his way from Nantes, France, to Cardiff on 21 January 2019, where he was expected for first practice with his new club, England second division Cardiff City, two days after announcing his transfer from FC Nantes. The 28-year-old chose the charter flight to have more time to say goodbye to fellow players and friends. The plane then crashed over the English Channel, killing Sala and Ibbotson.

A legal dispute between the two clubs before the International Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne was only decided on the transfer fee at the end of August. Cardiff did not feel obliged to pay the transfer fee to FC Nantes because Sala was not yet registered with the club at the time of his death. In Cardiff’s view, the transfer contract was therefore not yet complete and therefore invalid. The CAS ultimately disagreed. The panel is confident that the transfer has been completed by the time of Sala’s death. It followed a corresponding decision by FIFA, according to which Cardiff had to pay the first tranche of six million euros. The clubs had initially agreed a transfer fee of 17 million euros.

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