Friday, 13 March 2020

Pilot flew too fast and lost control causing a midair break-up in bad weather......

The UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch has finally published its report into the light aircraft crash that killed footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson in January last year. 

The report noted that Ibbotson was colour blind, wasn't training to fly at night,  inexperienced at flying using the aircraft's instruments. his rating permitting him to command a single-engine piston aircraft expired three months before the accident. The plane also had a series of defects including an oil leak, braking issues, the autopilot had intermittent faults making it unreliable and problems with the stall warning system.

According to the report, there was "significant evidence" that Ibbotson had been expecting to be paid for the flight, but was not licensed to carry passengers..  It concluded that "neither the plane nor the pilot had the required licences or permissions to operate commercially".

Ibbotson was flying the Argentine footballer, who had just signed for Cardiff City Football Club, from Nantes, in France, to Cardiff on 21 January 2019. They were in a single-engine Piper Malibu aircraft, registration N264DB nad had just passed Guernsey at the time they lost contact with air traffic control.   

The report indicated that Ibbotson lost control of the Piper Malibu whilst descending to avoid cloud and was probably impaired by a carbon monoxide leak. The aircraft was going too fast and began to break up whilst in the air as he tried to regain control. It is estimated the aircraft hit the sea, without wings at a speed approaching 270 mph. 

The pilot's body has never been found, whilst Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage of aircraft after a crowdfunded search located the crash site in the English Channel. The report indicated that there were near-fatal levels of carbon monoxide in Sala's blood and would have been "deeply unconscious" at the time of the crash.

Cardiff City FC issued a statement saying the report was an important step and raised a "number of new questions which we hope will be addressed.  -  We are encouraged to read that the CAA is determined to tackle illegal activities by pursuing those involved,".

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