Sala flight organiser hired ‘unqualified’ pilot

Flight organiser David Henderson acted “recklessly and dangerously” in organising a flight carrying Emiliano Sala, a court has heard.

The prosecutor said that Henderson hired a pilot who wasn’t qualified for competent for the journey.

Both Sala and the pilot David Ibbtotson died when the plane crashed in January 2019.

Henderson had been due to take control of the flight but a holiday in France meant he was unable to and instead Ibbotson took the flight.

“I have always said the flying we do is challenging and everyone has to be on the ball. It is a steep learning curve for someone new to the operation,” Henderson said in court.

“The prerequisite is a willingness to listen and learn. We both have an opportunity to make money out of the business model but not if we upset clients or draw the attention of the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority]… As self-employed sole traders we both have debtors and creditors and surely you understand that to remain legal we can’t take money in advance.”

The court heard that Henderson “ignored certain requirements” and that the flight was not “operated and organised out of a love for Emiliano Sala or Cardiff City Football Club” but for business requirements.