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Article from BTNews 1 NOVEMBER 2021

Aircraft broker found guilty

A jury at Cardiff Crown Court in the UK has found David Henderson, an aircraft broker and former RAF officer, guilty of endangering the safety of an aircraft for his role in arranging the flight in which soccer star Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson died when an illegally chartered Piper Malibu crashed into the ocean on a flight from France to Wales in January 2019.

Sala had recently been transferred from French Club Nantes to Cardiff City for a reported £15m and was returning from a departure party.

Henderson, 67, was convicted by a majority verdict of 10 to two over the death of the player by a jury at Cardiff Crown Court last Thursday 28 October.

He effectively managed the aircraft for its private owner, and was also found guilty of “attempting to discharge a passenger in the UK without valid permission or authorization."

Prosecutors told the jury that Ibbotson, who regularly flew for Henderson, did not have a Commercial Pilot’s Licence and was not qualified to fly in IFR conditions at night. His specific rating for the single-engine Malibu had expired.

Henderson’s company did not hold an Air Operator’s Certificate. Prosecutors told the jury that, after hearing about the crash, Henderson, texted associates instructing them not to speak about the circumstances around the flight out of concern that it would “open a can of worms.”

Commenting on the verdict, Kate Staples, the UK CAA’s General Counsel issued the following statement: “Aviation safety relies upon the integrity of everyone involved in the industry. Unlawful and unsafe activity such as Mr. Henderson’s is unacceptable and the UK Civil Aviation Authority will always look to prosecute illegal activity.”

He will be sentenced on 12 November.


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