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Pilot in crash that killed footballer Sala said plane was ‘dodgy’: BBC

The pilot flying the plane that came down in the English Channel, killing Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, previously complained that the aircraft was “dodgy”, according to audio obtained by the BBC.

Sala, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, died when the single-engined Piper Malibu plane they were travelling in came down en route from Nantes, northwest 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 “they’ve entrusted me to pick him (Sala) up in a dodgy Mirage,” according to the BBC.

“Normally I’d have my life jacket in between the seats, tomorrow we’re wearing the life jacket, that’s for sure.”

The forward had signed for Cardiff City, who were then in the Premier League, for a club record £15 million (17 million euros, $17 million) from Nantes.

Ibbotson said in the message that he had heard a bang when previously flying the plane, and that its left brake pedal wasn’t working.

“This aircraft has got to go back in the hangar,” he told his friend.

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

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

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in August dismissed an appeal by Cardiff against having to pay Nantes six million euros, the first instalment of Sala’s transfer fee.

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