Emiliano Sala plane crash pilot David Ibbotson had been banned from flying aircraft, inquest hears

Mr Sala, 28, was flying to Wales from France to join then Premier League club Cardiff City. Credit: PA

The pilot of the flight which crashed killing footballer Emiliano Sala had been banned from flying the plane by its owner months earlier, an inquest has heard.

The Argentina-born striker died alongside pilot David Ibbotson, 59, when the Piper Malibu aircraft crashed into the English Channel in January 2019.

Mr Sala, 28, was flying to Wales from France to join then Premier League club Cardiff City in a £15 million transfer from Ligue 1 side Nantes.

Dorset Coroner's Court heard that six months previously the owner of the aircraft had banned Mr Ibbotson from flying the plane after receiving two notices of airspace infringements from the CAA.

But Mr Ibbotson, from Lincolnshire, had continued to fly the plane without her knowledge, the inquest heard.

Pilot David Ibbotson had been banned from flying the plane by its owner months earlier, an inquest has heard.

Fay Keely's family purchased the Piper Malibu plane in August 2015 through their company Cool Flourish Ltd.

While Cool Flourish Ltd owned the plane, the registered keeper was Southern Aircraft Consultancy, but Miss Keely relied on pilot and businessman David Henderson to operate it.

Southern Aircraft Consultancy was not aware of Mr Henderson's involvement and believed Miss Keely was the registered operator.

She told the court it was Mr Henderson, who was a friend of her late father, that dealt with the day-to-day management of the plane, including maintenance and hiring pilots.

"I was very clear with Mr Henderson I had very little knowledge and without his help and support we would not have been able to go ahead with the purchase," she said.

She had received notification of two CAA infringements committed by Mr Ibbotson in the summer of 2018 and as a result told Mr Henderson not to use him again.

In an email to Mr Henderson, she wrote: "As this is now two incidents involving David Ibbotson both being picked the CAA I think it would be best if he was not asked to pilot the Malibu again.

"I appreciate this limits the available pilots, but it does not give me much confidence in his care of the aircraft."

She told the court: "I was clear that I didn't want him to fly the aircraft."

Hundreds of floral tributes to Emiliano Sala were left at the Cardiff City Stadium in the days after his death. Credit: PA

Miss Keely said she later learnt from Mr Henderson that Mr Ibbotson had taken her sister on a flight a few weeks later.

"I don't recall a conversation with Mr Henderson regarding it, but I don't believe my position had changed," she said.

"I certainly did not say I was content for Mr Ibbotson to fly the aircraft. I can't recall saying that he shouldn't.

"In hindsight it would have been prudent. I don't recall having that conversation, but I certainly didn't say that he could use it, but I don't recall if I reiterated it."

The plane was later recovered from the sea bed. Credit: AAIB/PA

Miss Keely said she had no knowledge of the outbound flight to Nantes arranged on January 19 and the return to Cardiff two days later or who the pilot was.

The inquest has previously heard Mr Sala was overcome by toxic levels of carbon monoxide poisoning prior to dying from severe head and chest injuries consistent with a plane crash.

The aircraft had left Nantes airport at 7.15pm on January 21 for the flight to Cardiff but radar contact was lost at 8.15pm near Guernsey.

The aircraft was located on the seabed on February 3 and Mr Sala's body was found in the wreckage three days later.

The inquest, which is taking place at the Town Hall in Bournemouth, is due to last around a month.