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‘Sala plane certified to fly’

THE plane carrying Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala which crashed in January was certified to fly and had recently undergone maintenance, but the cause of the tragedy has yet to be established, an Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) interim report says.

The Argentine died when the private plane bringing him to Cardiff crashed into the English Channel on January 21. The 28-year-old had completed a club-record transfer to the Premier League side just two days before the crash.

Sala’s body was recovered from the crash site after a lengthy search. Lincolnshire pilot David Ibbotson remains missing.

Now an interim AAIB report has stated that the aircraft was certified to fly in September 2015 until September 2021, subject to relevant maintenance. The last maintenance was performed on the plane on November 30, 2018 and was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The report states that, in cruise, the aircraft was flying at 5500ft. In the last few moments of the flight, the flight level fluctuated between 5000ft to 3900ft and then back up to 4400ft before dropping down to 1600ft, then up again to 2300ft before radar contact was lost.

It also details weather conditions on the evening of the flight and says the plane was equipped with an ice protection system and avionic equipment that allowed it to be flown safely at night.

It says there was a cold front from the North West, isolated showers and a freezing level between 3000ft-4000ft.

The report says: “The rainfall radar picture at 2015 hrs showed a band of showers, some heavy, passing through the area of flight.

“Data from the UK Met Office indicated that the freezing level around the Channel Islands was between 3,000ft and 4,000ft amsl.

“N264DB [the plane] was equipped with an ice protection system that allowed it to fly into known icing conditions. It was also fitted with avionic equipment that allowed it to be flown safely at night in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC6).” – Sky Sport

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