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vanHorck 28th Oct 2021 15:03

From the BBC:"However Stephen Spence QC, defending, had said his client's actions were "purely a paperwork issue" and had not led to a likelihood of danger....

Mr Spence told the court the only difference between a commercial licence and the private licence held by Mr Ibbotson was whether you could carry passengers for money or not, rather than ability."

Ouch!




Timmy Tomkins 28th Oct 2021 15:06

Have there been previous prosecutions by the CAA or convictions for similar activity? There may have been but it took the poor Sala family to suffer this avoidable tragedy to raise the profile of this type of activity. I hope it has an impact on public awareness as well as the CAA's policy of dealing with dodgy customers. I am sure we have all known a few

Timmy Tomkins 28th Oct 2021 15:09


Originally Posted by vanHorck (Post 11133514)
From the BBC:"However Stephen Spence QC, defending, had said his client's actions were "purely a paperwork issue" and had not led to a likelihood of danger....

Mr Spence told the court the only difference between a commercial licence and the private licence held by Mr Ibbotson was whether you could carry passengers for money or not, rather than ability."

Ouch!

We posted simultaneously. This demonstrates total ignorance of aviation and I suspect that most members of the public will know no different

MPN11 28th Oct 2021 15:33

As a member of the public, I did once vaguely consider exploring getting ‘someone’ to fly us and our luggage from Jersey to ‘somewhere near Heathrow’ to connect to a proper long-haul airline flight. I then took a Sensible Pill. In any case, My Lady wouldn’t consider such an activity with just one engine and one pilot.

whiterock 28th Oct 2021 15:44

Really? I think many of us have accepted a lift in a vehicle with one driver and one engine without knowing the licences held by said driver or condition, legal or otherwise of the vehicle. Not the same exactly but a similar mindset I would suggest.

Yellow Sun 28th Oct 2021 15:45


Originally Posted by Timmy Tomkins (Post 11133515)
Have there been previous prosecutions by the CAA or convictions for similar activity? There may have been but it took the poor Sala family to suffer this avoidable tragedy to raise the profile of this type of activity. I hope it has an impact on public awareness as well as the CAA's policy of dealing with dodgy customers. I am sure we have all known a few

Unfortunately it is very difficult area to investigate. All the parties involved will have an interest in staying silent, very little (nothing?) will be committed to paper, use of text or email is recognised as potentially incriminating, phone records may still reveal something, but use of "burner" phones is becoming quite common and payment may be hidden in all sorts of ways. The CAA may have strong suspicions that unlawful activity is going on, but mounting an investigation that might stand any realistic chance of gaining the evidence to justify a charge, let alone proceed to prosecution would be eye wateringly expensive.

Look at it from this perspective, if the aircraft had not crashed that night how would the CAA have been in a position to investigate the circumstances of the flight? What grounds were there to open an investigation, they would have needed a well founded complaint or have been otherwise presented with sufficient evidence to investigate whether or not an offence had occurred. It is deeply sad that in this it took the tragic deaths of two people before action could commence, but it's how the law works. Fishing around for evidence purely on the basis of suspicion is the stuff of a police state.

YS

Hipper 28th Oct 2021 15:53


Originally Posted by Timmy Tomkins (Post 11133518)
We posted simultaneously. This demonstrates total ignorance of aviation and I suspect that most members of the public will know no different

I qualify as I'm a member of the public and whilst I've learnt a lot as a result of reading on this case I still fail to see how only having a private licence makes someone an incompetent pilot. Likewise the fact that the pilot's qualification for flying this plane expired a few months before the flight.

Similarly it seems that despite flying at night and a threat of cloudy/wet conditions it seems possible for a VFR pilot with an instrument rating to attempt this flight. I know the AIAB report rightly criticises the pilot for this but I presume the pilot's decision to fly is controversial rather then just plain wrong. A matter of judgement, not law.

happybiker 28th Oct 2021 16:25


Originally Posted by Hipper (Post 11133541)
I qualify as I'm a member of the public and whilst I've learnt a lot as a result of reading on this case I still fail to see how only having a private licence makes someone an incompetent pilot. Likewise the fact that the pilot's qualification for flying this plane expired a few months before the flight.

Similarly it seems that despite flying at night and a threat of cloudy/wet conditions it seems possible for a VFR pilot with an instrument rating to attempt this flight. I know the AIAB report rightly criticises the pilot for this but I presume the pilot's decision to fly is controversial rather then just plain wrong. A matter of judgement, not law.

You are missing the point somewhat. International and UK regulations require an operator to obtain an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) to be able to commercially operate an aircraft where payment is to be made for carriage of passengers or freight. This is to ensure that operations can be carried out safely in accordance with prescribed standards. The AOC requires a documented system approved by the safety regulator which would cover all aspects of the operation including the airworthiness of the aircraft, qualifications of the pilots and also the competence of the pilots to carry out flights in accordance with standards prescribed in the AOC. This operator did not have an AOC therefore the standards of the operation were not known and as demonstrated by this tragic accident were far below what was necessary to effect a safe operation. As previously said in this thread, this was a rogue operation to avoid the expense that would be required to establish a fully approved AOC.

It is not a matter of judgement. The pilot did breach UK law as prescribed in the Air Navigation Order. 1. Flight at night without the prescribed rating. 2. Carrying out a commercial flight without an Air Operators Certificate.

runway30 28th Oct 2021 16:26


Originally Posted by Hipper (Post 11133541)
I qualify as I'm a member of the public and whilst I've learnt a lot as a result of reading on this case I still fail to see how only having a private licence makes someone an incompetent pilot. Likewise the fact that the pilot's qualification for flying this plane expired a few months before the flight.

Similarly it seems that despite flying at night and a threat of cloudy/wet conditions it seems possible for a VFR pilot with an instrument rating to attempt this flight. I know the AIAB report rightly criticises the pilot for this but I presume the pilot's decision to fly is controversial rather then just plain wrong. A matter of judgement, not law.

I think this shows how deceitful this defence was. To the public a pilot is a pilot, the only difference between private and commercial is that one can take money, an AOC is just paperwork and you still have a rating even after you have failed to revalidate it.

As all the commercial pilots on here will shout as one, they have to demonstrate that they can fly and then maintain a much higher standard than a private pilot to a common and consistent standard. Private pilots vary from the good to the downright dangerous but at no point do they have to fly to the standard or have the knowledge of a commercial pilot.

An AOC isn't just paperwork. It is hard to get and hard to maintain because the public have to have confidence that the aircraft they get into is operated and maintained to a high standard with properly qualified pilots at the controls. None of that was available in Henderson's business. Sometimes they will get lucky, sometimes they won't but that is no way to run an air transport operation and it is bad that some members of the public can be convinced that all the layers of safety aren't necessary.

SWBKCB 28th Oct 2021 16:52


I qualify as I'm a member of the public and whilst I've learnt a lot as a result of reading on this case I still fail to see how only having a private licence makes someone an incompetent pilot. Likewise the fact that the pilot's qualification for flying this plane expired a few months before the flight.
So if Mr Ibbotson had come and explained to you the true nature of the flight, would you have got on and flown with?

alfaman 28th Oct 2021 16:53


Originally Posted by Hipper (Post 11133541)
I qualify as I'm a member of the public and whilst I've learnt a lot as a result of reading on this case I still fail to see how only having a private licence makes someone an incompetent pilot. Likewise the fact that the pilot's qualification for flying this plane expired a few months before the flight.

Similarly it seems that despite flying at night and a threat of cloudy/wet conditions it seems possible for a VFR pilot with an instrument rating to attempt this flight. I know the AIAB report rightly criticises the pilot for this but I presume the pilot's decision to fly is controversial rather then just plain wrong. A matter of judgement, not law.

Perhaps the legal definition of competence may help, rather than the common usage? "The power of a person, business, court or government to deal with something or take legal decisions" - a commercial pilot is vested with certain obligations, & trained & assessed to undertake certain flight services, which the private pilot isn't. As such, he/she is authorised to charge for those services, whereas a private pilot is not, because he/she hasn't undertaken that training & assessment process. It's not as simple as how one handles the aircraft. Similarly, the aircraft probably crashed due to the faults within it; but, it shouldn't have been in that position. A competent pilot would not have placed it there: competent because their professional skills & qualifications would not have allowed it, rather than their ability to control it in flight under those circumstances.

Eutychus 28th Oct 2021 16:59

Similarities to Alec Baldwin
 
I took a close interest in this thread at the time of the event, not least because I'd taken two similar flights to and from the CI not long beforehand and was with tangentially related parties when news of it broke.

It occurs to me that this debate is quite similar to the one surrounding Alec Baldwin's fatal shooting of the director of photography on a film set. How one sees the event, and the appraisals of the related risks and responsibilities, is very different depending on how familiar one is with the situation and the related skills and regulations.

The Sala tragedy made me realise how ineffective my risk assessment of such a situation as SLF was, and how dangerous (with hindsight) one of the flights I took was. I don't think it would necessarily stop me taking one again, though - but I would like a much clearer picture of my insurance cover before I did.

anothertyke 28th Oct 2021 17:03


Originally Posted by happybiker (Post 11133548)
You are missing the point somewhat. International and UK regulations require an operator to obtain an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) to be able to commercially operate an aircraft where payment is to be made for carriage of passengers or freight. This is to ensure that operations can be carried out safely in accordance with prescribed standards. The AOC requires a documented system approved by the safety regulator which would cover all aspects of the operation including the airworthiness of the aircraft, qualifications of the pilots and also the competence of the pilots to carry out flights in accordance with standards prescribed in the AOC. This operator did not have an AOC therefore the standards of the operation were not known and as demonstrated by this tragic accident were far below what was necessary to effect a safe operation. As previously said in this thread, this was a rogue operation to avoid the expense that would be required to establish a fully approved AOC.

It is not a matter of judgement. The pilot did breach UK law as prescribed in the Air Navigation Order. 1. Flight at night without the prescribed rating. 2. Carrying out a commercial flight without an Air Operators Certificate.

But what are the implications for public policy?

Is this a rogue event in the sense of being a real one off? Or is it the tip of an iceberg?

And if the latter, how does the regulator enforce the requirements around hire or reward? Even the definition of 'an operator' seems to have been challenged in this case.

jumpseater 28th Oct 2021 17:05


Originally Posted by Timmy Tomkins (Post 11133518)
We posted simultaneously. This demonstrates total ignorance of aviation and I suspect that most members of the public will know no different

It doesn’t. It shows a defence lawyer at work.
The defence is being paid to minimise/refute the impact of the prosecution case for their clients, so if making light and underplaying the requirements of qualifications, experience and ‘commercial regulation’ gets their client off the hook, they’ve done their job.
No different to the lawyer whom is often associated with successfully defending for celeb driving offences

jumpseater 28th Oct 2021 17:19


Originally Posted by anothertyke (Post 11133571)
But what are the implications for public policy?

Is this a rogue event in the sense of being a real one off? Or is it the tip of an iceberg?

And if the latter, how does the regulator enforce the requirements around hire or reward? Even the definition of 'an operator' seems to have been challenged in this case.

Public policy, not a lot I think(see enforcement below). It will likely make organisations who arrange transportation of high net worth celebs and similar, look more closely at who is actually working for them and how and what insurance is in place. I suspect insurance claims can now follow and that won’t be good news for any sole traders involved in the Sala trail.

Its almost certainly the tip of an Iceberg. I imagine when sentencing the number of previous flights uncovered in the investigation may be taken into account, ie just how often various laws were known to have been broken.
Enforcement, the structure is almost certainly there, ramp checks for example, whether the manpower/time resources are though…

The defence expectedly challenged ‘operator’, if the late PIC could be defined as the operator, rather than the facilitator who actually put the whole flight in place, they (defence) could walk away saying ‘not our problem, the pilot done it’

airsound 28th Oct 2021 17:34

Jumpseater is right when he says:

It doesn’t. It shows a defence lawyer at work.
Here is what Stephen Spence's chambers, Drystone, says about him:

Stephen is recognised for his specialist aviation practice. An RAF trained pilot with flying experience ranging from gliders to fast jets and rotary he has an enviable reputation for defending aviation related prosecutions. These have ranged from regulatory issues to allegations of gross negligence manslaughter. His clients have included aircraft engineers, pilots (private and commercial), aviation businesses and international airlines.
He was part of the team that successfully defended Andy Hill at the Old Bailey. Hill was acquitted unanimously of manslaughter by gross negligence over the Shoreham Hunter crash.

As far as I know, despite the BBC report, Stephen Spence is not a QC. But, having seen him at work in the Hill case, I can vouch for his aviation knowledge and his abilities in court.

airsound

Yellow Sun 28th Oct 2021 17:44


Originally Posted by jumpseater (Post 11133572)
It doesn’t. It shows a defence lawyer at work.
The defence is being paid to minimise/refute the impact of the prosecution case for their clients, so if making light and underplaying the requirements of qualifications, experience and ‘commercial regulation’ gets their client off the hook, they’ve done their job.
No different to the lawyer whom is often associated with successfully defending for celeb driving offences

Well said, the defence case was littered with selective and partial statements and the tactics of playing upon the likely preconceptions of a lay jury. The reference to Henderson having been an RAF officer, whilst true begged a multitude of questions. Whilst it was true that he had completed Initial Officer Training (IOT) and was thus commissioned, in his remaining time in the service he could not have proceeded much further than initial navigator training before he voluntarily withdrew or was withdrawn from training and may or may not have been offered continuation of service in another branch. We shall never know.

In a similar vein, Ibbotson's 3,500 recorded hours of flying were offered as evidence of his competence. Unfortunately the public at large readily accept the gross figure as a true indication of acquired ability. Those of us who have flown for a living know nothing could be further from the truth! The fact that the flying time had been gained over a period of nearly 30 years would not occur to most if any of the jury. A quick sum tells me that I have on occaision flown nearly as much in a month as Ibbotson's annual average. It gives it a little perspective that defence counsel might rather wish to avoid.

The comments about professional licences were so partial as to be almost an attempt to mislead. All a professional licence does is allow you to seek employment as a pilot, it is a pre-requisite and doesn't make you anything special; counsel was correct in that respect! If you spend any time in aviation you will run across those individuals who struggle to get that first job; even in times of shortage; and may never achieve it. You usually have a pretty shrewd idea why.

As has been said above, there's a lot more to flying for hire or reward than the stick and rudder bit. It's about consistency and maintaining competence and performance over an extended period within a complex and sometimes unpredictable environment. Proper training for licence is the ticket to an organisation that will start you on the road to properly understanding the job, mentoring and development throughout the whole of your career.

YS

NutLoose 28th Oct 2021 18:53

Sala fatal crash flight organiser found guilty
 
Sentencing to follow, see link, it makes some sobering reading.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-59062626

calypso 28th Oct 2021 21:19


However Stephen Spence QC, defending, had said his client's actions were "purely a paperwork issue" and had not led to a likelihood of danger....

Mr Spence told the court the only difference between a commercial licence and the private licence held by Mr Ibbotson was whether you could carry passengers for money or not, rather than ability
Just as demonstrated by what actually happened on the day...

Mike Flynn 28th Oct 2021 21:51

For those who have not seen it this BBC interview with David Henderson and the ill fated Malibu in 2015 is worth viewing.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/magazine-34492176


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