Emiliano Sala’s pilot noticed ‘plane’s brakes did not work’ but took off anyway

The pilot of Emiliano Sala's flight to Cardiff told his friend the plane's brakes did not work before the flight.

Sala had completed a move from Nantes to Cardiff in 2019, but he never made it to Wales after his plane crashed into the English Channel just north of Guernsey. The Argentine's body was recovered after the crash, while David Ibbotson's body was never found.

In audio obtained by the BBC, Ibbotson can be heard telling a friend the left brake pedal wasn't working after landing at Nantes Atlantique Airport. He added: "This aircraft has got to go back in the hangar."

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Ibbotson had flown to Nantes on Saturday 19 January 2019, and he planned to return to Cardiff, with Sala, on Monday 21 January.

The conversation also reveals Ibbotson has noticed several problems with the aircraft on his flight to France. "I'm mid-Channel and 'bang'," he can be heard telling his friend Kevin Jones after landing in Nantes.

Ibbotson also added: "Normally I'd have my life jacket between my seats but tomorrow I'll be wearing my life jacket."

Cardiff had offered to put Sala on a commercial flight, via Paris, but the Argentine wanted more time to say goodbye to friends and team-mates in Nantes before making the switch to his new club.

Instead, Willie McKay, who helped broker the transfer, chartered a private flight between Nantes and Cardiff with David Henderson. However, Henderson couldn't undertake the request to fly, so he called in Ibbotson to get Sala from Nantes to Wales.

Ibbotson was only an amateur pilot and did not have a licence to carry paying passengers or legally fly in the dark – which Sala was unaware of when he boarded the flight.


  • Emiliano Sala felt pressured into making transfer to Cardiff City, inquest hears

  • Emiliano Sala flight organiser David Henderson sentenced to 18 months in prison

  • Emiliano Sala pilot was told "he shouldn't be flying the aircraft" before fatal crash

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