Pilot pleads guilty to one charge relating to Emiliano Sala flight

David Henderson pleaded guilty to one charge over the death of footballer Emiliano Sala.

A pilot has pleaded guilty to one charge relating to the flight in which footballer Emiliano Sala died when the aircraft crashed in the English Channel.

David Henderson, 66, pleaded guilty to attempting to discharge a passenger without valid permission or authorisation.

He is denying another charge, which relates to recruiting fellow pilot David Ibbotson, 59, to fly the single-engine Piper Malibu from France to Cardiff airport.

He is to stand trial accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft, an offence under the Air Navigation Order (2016), which was brought by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Mr Ibbotson, 59, allegedly did not have a valid commercial licence and was "not competent" to fly in bad weather.

The full trial is due to start on Tuesday 19 October at Cardiff Crown Court.

The full trial will begin on Tuesday 19 October at Cardiff Crown Court.

The Argentinian striker died from the disaster following stormy conditions in January 2019.

He had just transferred from French side Nantes to Cardiff City.

Sala’s body was recovered the following month, but Mr Ibbotson has not been found.

Following the incident, thousands of fans left tributes at the stadium with a huge outpouring of grief.

Thousands of Cardiff City fans paid tribute to Argentina's Sala following his death. Credit: PA

Henderson allegedly recruited Mr Ibbotson for return flights that weekend to and from France both with Sala on board.

He denied acting in a “dangerous or reckless manner” which was likely to endanger the plane used to fly the footballer.

The charge also stated Henderson knew that “bad weather was forecast and Mr Ibbotson was not competent to fly in that weather.

Henderson wanted the trial to be moved away from the Welsh capital to ensure no Cardiff City fans were on the jury.

He will face a two week trial in front of High Court Judge Mr Justice Foxton in the prosecution brought by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Sala's family living in Argentina are not expected in court to hear the trial.