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Emiliano Sala: Man who organised footballer's flight goes on trial

·2-min read

A two-week trial of a man charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft which led to the death of Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala will begin later today.

Sala died when a single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft crashed north of Guernsey in January 2018.

He was on his way to Cardiff, having agreed to sign for the Bluebirds on a £15m transfer deal from French club Nantes.

The pilot, Dave Ibboston, 59, also died in the crash and Sala's body was recovered from the seabed in February 2019. Mr Ibbotson's body and the plane wreckage were not recovered.

David Henderson, from East Riding in Yorkshire, will appear in court accused of attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

The 66-year-old denies pleaded not guilty to the offences in October 2020, which are brought by the Civil Aviation Authority, and he will appear before Mr Justice Foxton at Cardiff Crown Court.

During a hearing in October 2020, it emerged that Mr Ibbotson's license to fly an aircraft commercially had expired in November 2018.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigations Branch previously reported that the pilot had been flying too fast for the plane's design limits and he lost control while trying to avoid bad weather.

A final manoeuvre to pull up the plane had caused it to break in mid-air.

The report added that Mr Ibbotson was probably affected by carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to investigators at the time, the pilot had no training in night flying, and a lack of recent practice in relying only on cockpit instruments to control the plane contributed to the crash.

They also found that Mr Ibboston held a private pilot's licence that did not allow him to conduct flights for reward.

A jury inquest into his death was postponed until the conclusion of Henderson's trial and is scheduled to start in February 2022.

Daniel Machover, a solicitor at law firm Hickman & Rose who represents the Sala family, said the footballer's family would not be attending the trial in person.

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