Pilot in crash that killed soccer player Sala said plane was "unreliable": BBC

Pilot in crash that killed soccer player Sala said plane was “unreliable”: BBC

The pilot of the plane that crashed into the English Channel, killing Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala, earlier complained that the aircraft was “unreliable”, according to audio obtained by the BBC.

Sala, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, were killed when the single-engine Piper Malibu plane they were traveling in went down en route from Nantes, northwestern France, to Cardiff in 2019.

The footballer inhaled toxic levels of carbon monoxide from the aircraft’s faulty exhaust system during the unlicensed flight, a coroner’s inquest ruled in March.

In a phone message to another pilot, Ibbotson said “I have been entrusted to pick him up (Sala) in a dodgy Mirage,” according to the BBC.

“Normally I would have my life jacket between the seats, tomorrow we will wear the life jacket, that’s for sure.”

The striker had signed for Cardiff City, then in the Premier League, for a club-record £15m (€17m, $17m) from Nantes.

Ibbotson said in the message that he had heard an explosion as he was flying the plane and that the left brake pedal was not working.

“This plane has to go back to the hangar,” he told his friend.

The footballer also expressed his fears in a voice note sent to his friends, telling them “man I’m scared” and that the plane “looks like it’s falling apart”.

David Henderson, 67, who organized the flight, was sentenced after a criminal trial last November to 18 months in prison for hiring a pilot he knew was unqualified and for carrying a passenger without valid authorization.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed in August an appeal by Cardiff against the payment of six million euros to Nantes, the first installment of the Sala transfer.


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