Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

21.31 13 Mar 2020


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The plane crash which killed footballer Emiliano Sala last year was caused by the aircraft breaking up when the pilot lost control, investigators in the UK have found.

Mr Sala (28) and pilot David Ibbotson (59) died when the plan went down in the English Channel on January 21st 2019.

The footballer was making his way to Wales after completing his club record transfer to Cardiff City from FC Nantes.

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In a report published today, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) says the pilot didn't have the right commercial licence for the flight.

Investigators also say they found no evidence that Mr Ibbotson had training in night flying.

They found he was probably impaired by carbon monoxide in the cabin, before the plane crashed in the English Channel.

Officials say the plane was lost to radar likely while being manoeuvred to avoid poor weather.

Crispin Orr, the chief inspector of Air Accidents at AAIB said: “This was a tragic accident with fatal consequences.

"As we publish our final report today, our thoughts are with the families of Mr Sala and Mr Ibbotson."

He said that there are devices warning of the presence of "odourless, colourless and lethal" carbon monoxide - allowing pilots to take "potentially lifesaving action" in response.

He said: "We are therefore calling for the regulators to make it mandatory for piston engine aircraft, such as the one involved in this accident, to carry an active CO warning device."

In a statement, Cardiff City Football Club welcomed the report and said it was an "important step in understanding the full facts surrounding this tragedy".

An inquest is due to get back underway next week, with Cardiff saying they hope it answers "a number of new questions" raised by the report published today.

Main image: File photo dated 02/02/19 of a Cardiff City match day programme with an image of Emiliano Sala. Picture by: Mark Kerton/PA Wire/PA Images

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