Harrowing flight simulation shows what caused Emiliano Sala plane crash as Cardiff ‘seek damages’

A flight simulation has shown what caused the plane crash which killed Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson in 2019, based upon evidence collected.

Sala was travelling from previous club Nantes to Cardiff when the plane he was in crashed over the English Channel on January 21.

An official search and subsequent private search was launched, with Sala’s body recovered and identified on February 7. Ibbotson’s body has never been found.

WhatsApp messages sent by Sala to friends showed that the Argentinian was worried about the condition of the plane after embarking on it.

It later emerged that Ibbotson did not have a commercial licence for carrying passengers and did not have the correct certification to fly at night.

David Henderson – who was originally due to fly the plane that crashed, but was on holiday at the time so asked Ibbotson to do the journey – was later sentenced to 18 months in prison in November 2021 for ‘recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft’.

He also admitted a charge of trying to arrange a flight for a passenger without permission or authorisation.

Henderson intended to appeal the sentence, but the Court of Appeal refused him leave of appeal in February 2022.

Later in 2022, BBC Wales posted a simulation of the plane crash to show what happened, based on evidence that has been collected.

It is said that in his last contact with air traffic control, Ibbotson asked for permission to descend due to poor water.

It is then added that the plane began to descend and take a series of turns, before becoming unstable – while flying at a much faster speed than designed.

The simulation then shows how a attempted manoeuvre from Ibbotson to stabilise the plane resulted in its tail breaking off. The plane would then have tipped, before the wings then snapped.

Cardiff had completed a £15 million deal to sign the Argentinian striker three days before the crash.

FIFA later ordered Cardiff to pay the fee, finding against the Welsh club’s claims that Sala was not officially a Cardiff player at the time of his death.

Upon paying off the final two instalments of the fee last year, Cardiff said in a statement: “Cardiff City today paid the second and third instalments of the transfer fee for Emiliano Sala, as recently ordered to do by FIFA.

“This is despite there not yet being a judicial decision about FC Nantes’ liability for the crash. We continue to work towards those responsible being held accountable.

“We look forward to the trial before the French court next year.”

Now, L’Equipe are reporting that Cardiff will claim £104 million in compensation from Nantes for the transfer, after enlisting an analytics company that found they would have had a 54.2 per cent chance of avoiding Premier League relegation that season had Sala been playing.

Neil Warnock’s side finished 18th in the 2018/19 season, and were relegated by two points.

It is claimed that Cardiff brought a French legal and financial expert into the case, who determined that the figure the club are seeking was based on their relegation to the Championship – they have since failed to earn promotion back to the Premier League – and what they believe to be ‘reputational damage’.

The report claims that Nantes have denounced the ‘judicial relentlessness’ of the Championship side, and have produced a counterclaim based on ‘moral damage’. They are said to be seeking a fine for Cardiff.

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