What can we learn from the dark case of Emiliano Sala? – Words from our CEO

It is not the first time and, sadly, it will not be the last time that news reports similar to those about the Cardiff player Emiliano Sala, who went missing after chartering a non-commercial aircraft, will flood our newsfeed.

When such tragedies strike, my DREAM TEAM and I are urged to jump right in and raise awareness of the deep-seated dangerous phenomena of grey charters and dodgy brokers.

Business aviation is strictly regulated. That’s a fact.

Commercial private jet airlines operate at the same standards as the world’s major airlines and make considerable investments in safety each year. Private jet charters are subjected to stringent audits by the Civil Aviation Authorities which check on many of the companies’ aspects including maintenance, crew training, medical and insurance policies. And it’s only after successfully passing all audits that commercial private jet airlines can have their AOC (Air Operating Certificates) approved.

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globeair team meeting 2019
“The DREAM TEAM attending one of the annual training sessions at the GlobeAir HQ in Hörsching, Austria”


It’s hard to believe that behind this highly regulated environment, much darker practices lurk. But that’s the ugly truth.

Despite the many actions against illegal charters which are promoted by the most well-known air charters associations, (like BACA – The Air Charter Association Ltd. and EBAA – the European Business Aviation Association whose first initiative against illegal charter practices dates back to 2011) there are mainly two types of grey charters. Those are both illegal and extremely risky for passengers and pilots alike (read the full non-compliant flights’ list compiled by EBAA).

“May 21, 2018: BACA and EBAA (…) will act in close co-ordination with their members, asking them to help by reporting incidents of suspected illegal charters. Ultimately this will benefit not just their members but all passengers, operators, brokers and customers.” – from the EBAA repository, published on May 29, 2018.

“Is the trade-off between a lower price and a dangerous service even worth a thought? Probably never.”

The first type involves any broker who sells private jet flights on board an aircraft which doesn’t possess the legal requisites to perform charter flights. The second usually occurs when friends or acquaintances owning an aeroplane decide to borrow or share it, despite its non-observance of the FARs – the rules which supervise aircraft time sharing.

The recent news of a US-registered Piper PA-46-310P Malibu which disappeared while carrying pilot Dave Ibbotson and Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala on route to Cardiff from Nantes seems to fall into the first type of grey charters.

The motives behind Emiliano Sala’s decision to fly aboard an unlicensed, single-pilot, single-engine aircraft are still unclear; as it is unclear who bears the ultimate responsibility for organising the flight.

Photo Credits: Industrial Motion Art


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