Air Charter Association stages Legal Charter Day to highlight Sala tragedy


The Air Charter Association (ACA) is urging the industry to support its Legal Charter Day dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of illegal charter, following the death of football star Emiliano Sala and his pilot.

Sala, along with his pilot David Ibbotson, died when an illegally chartered aircraft crashed into the English Channel in January 2019. To mark the four-year anniversary of their deaths, The ACA is inviting its members to support its second annual Fly Legal Day on January 21st 2023.

“Sadly, while rare, chartering illegally remains an ongoing issue in our industry, and together we can spread the word about this and prevent future tragedies like the Sala case” said Glenn Hogben, CEO, ACA. “The ACA’s priority is always to uphold the highest industry standards, trust, professionalism, and above all else, safety. Booking with one of our trusted member companies ensures those involved in organising air charter, and the passengers, will avoid illegal charter flights and prevent putting anyone at significant risk.”

The businessman who organised the fatal flight, David Henderson, was found guilty of endangering the safety of an aircraft two years ago. Henderson, aged 67, of Hotham, East Riding, Yorkshire, UK was convicted at Cardiff crown court on October 28th 2021.

The court heard that Henderson had asked Ibbotson to fly the plane. While Ibbotson had regularly flown for him, he did not hold a Commercial Pilot’s License or a qualification to fly at night, and his rating to fly the single-engine Piper Malibu had expired.

Despite being a heavily regulated industry, illegal charters are still affecting business aviation worldwide. According to a 2021 survey by law firm HFW and the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA), illegal charters in the Asia Pacific region have damaged 71% of respondents’ business, while 90% believe regulators are not doing enough to address the issue. Most respondents also believed that illegal charters would increase following the impact of Covid-19.

To mark the anniversary, The ACA is asking the industry to show support on social media.