An inquest into the death of footballer Emiliano Sala, who died in a plane crash in 2019 on his way to Cardiff City from Nantes, has started in Bournemouth
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The pilot of the flight that crashed killing footballer Emiliano Sala had been banned from flying the plane by its owner months earlier after getting into trouble with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), according to a investigation.
The Argentinian-born striker died alongside pilot David Ibbotson, 59, when the Piper Malibu plane crashed in the English Channel in January 2019.
Mr Sala, 28, was flying to Wales from France to join Premier League club Cardiff City in a £15million move from Ligue 1 side Nantes.
Dorset Coroner’s Court heard that six months earlier the plane’s owner banned Mr Ibbotson from flying the plane after he received two airspace violation notices from the CAA.
But he had continued to fly the plane without her knowledge, according to the investigation.
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Fay Keely’s family purchased the Piper Malibu plane in August 2015 through their company Cool Flourish Ltd.
While Cool Flourish Ltd owned the plane, the registered holder was Southern Aircraft Consultancy, but Miss Keely relied on pilot and businessman David Henderson to operate it.
Southern Aircraft Consultancy was unaware of Mr Henderson’s involvement and believed Miss Keely was the registered operator.
She told the court it was Mr Henderson, who was a friend of her late father, who looked after the day-to-day running of the plane, including maintenance and hiring pilots.
“I was very clear with Mr. Henderson, I had very little knowledge and without his help and support we could not have made the purchase,” she said.
She had received notice of two CAA violations committed by Mr. Ibbotson in the summer of 2018 and had therefore told Mr. Henderson not to use it again.
In an email to Mr Henderson, she wrote: ‘As these are now two incidents involving David Ibbotson, both chosen for the CAA, I think it would be best if he were not asked to fly the Malibu again.
“I appreciate that it limits the pilots available, but it doesn’t give me much confidence in his handling of the aircraft.”
She told the court: “I was clear that I didn’t want him to fly the plane.”
Miss Keely said she later learned from Mr Henderson that Mr Ibbotson had taken her sister on a flight a few weeks later.
“I don’t recall a conversation with Mr. Henderson about this, but I don’t believe my position has changed,” she said.
“I certainly didn’t say I was glad Mr Ibbotson was flying the plane. I don’t remember saying he shouldn’t.
“In hindsight, that would have been prudent. I don’t remember having that conversation, but I certainly didn’t say he could use it, but I don’t remember if I reiterated it. .”
Miss Keely said she had no knowledge of the outbound flight to Nantes on January 19 and the return to Cardiff two days later or who the pilot was.
The inquest previously heard Mr Sala was overcome with toxic levels of carbon monoxide poisoning before dying from serious head and chest injuries consistent with a plane crash.
The aircraft had left Nantes airport at 7.15pm on January 21 for the flight to Cardiff but radar contact was lost at 8.15pm near Guernsey.
The plane was located on the seabed on February 3 and Mr Sala’s body was found in the wreckage three days later.
The inquest, which is taking place at Bournemouth Town Hall, is expected to last around a month.