The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), the British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) and The Air Charter Association (The ACA) have issued the following response to the publication of the Sala accident report conclusions by the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB):
“EBAA, BBGA and The ACA note the findings of the aircraft accident report published by AAIB into the crash that claimed the lives of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson, the pilot flying the aircraft on 23 January 2019. Our thoughts are with the victims' families and loved ones involved in this tragic and avoidable accident.
“Regrettably, the conclusions have raised the issue of illegal charter flights. Amongst other contributing factors, it appears the aircraft was operated without the appropriate licences and approvals to do so.
“For decades, EBAA, BBGA and The ACA have been heavily involved in educating the business aviation community, the public and authorities about the risks of illegal charter flights. Despite these efforts, there remains a small, but a significant number of aircraft owners who ignore the law and carry passengers illegally.
“EBAA, BBGA and The ACA will intensify their efforts to fight against the issue of illegal charter flights. This practice threatens passenger safety and gives legitimate providers a bad name, while undermining their financial viability.
“The focus needs to shift to establishing clarity on what defines a private operation and a commercial operation. Compounding the concern, is a lack of clarity on the definition of an illegal charter, but also on who has what responsibility when operating or booking flights.
“EBAA, BBGA and The ACA call on governments worldwide to take the issue of illegal charter flights more seriously and make additional resources available to actively prosecute offenders who flout the law. There needs to be far higher sentences, more substantial fines, the removal of pilots' licences and seizure of aircraft for those people who, despite knowing the law, operate as if they weren't subject to any of it.
“EBAA, BBGA, The ACA and their members are committed to upholding the aviation industry's highest safety standards and codes of practice for passengers and crews alike. We will continue to sound the alarm and educate regulators, the industry and public, at all levels, of the risks and dangers of these fraudulent activities.”