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Man who organised Emiliano Sala air crash flight to stand trial today

David Henderson, 66, arranged the flight in January 2019 which crashed killing footballer Sala and the pilot, Dave Ibbotson.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE TRIAL OF a man charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft which crashed and killed Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala will begin today.

David Henderson, of Hotham in the East Riding of Yorkshire, is also accused of attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

The 66-year-old, who is alleged to have arranged the flight carrying 28-year-old Sala and pilot Dave Ibbotson, 59, will appear at Cardiff Crown Court.

Henderson denies committing the two offences under the Air Navigation Order (2016) which were brought by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) after the single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft crashed north of Guernsey in January 2019.

The plane was bringing the striker, who was involved in a multimillion pound transfer deal, from Nantes in France to Cardiff where he had signed for the Bluebirds, then a Premier League club.

The body of Sala was recovered from the seabed the following month, but neither the body of Ibbotson, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, nor the plane’s wreckage, was recovered.

At a hearing in October 2020, the court heard how Ibbotson’s licence to fly an aircraft commercially had expired in November 2018.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) previously reported that the pilot had been flying too fast for the plane’s design limits and, while attempting to avoid bad weather, had lost control. A final manoeuvre to pull up the plane had caused the plane to break up in mid-air.

It added that Ibbotson was probably affected by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Investigators found that a contributory factor in the crash was Ibbotson having no training in night flying, and a lack of recent practice in relying only on cockpit instruments to control a plane.

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And they found that he 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 after Henderson’s trial and is scheduled for February 14 2022.

Lawyer Daniel Machover told the PA news agency that Sala’s family would not be attending the trial in person.

Henderson, who denies all charges and is on bail, will appear before Mr Justice Foxton, a High Court judge. The trial is due to last for two weeks.

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