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Greater CAA powers will help "clampdown on illegal flights": RPC reacts to Emiliano Sala report

Published on 23 March 2022

International law firm RPC welcomes greater powers for the Civil Aviation Authority to avert future tragedies in the wake of footballer Emiliano Sala's death.

Commenting on a Prevention of Future Deaths report, published on 22 March 2022, RPC's Mamata Dutta, legal director in the general liability and medical team, said: 

"The inquest into the death of Emiliano Sala has not only established he was on an illegal night flight - because it was a commercial flight without the required authorisations – but that also such flights are commonplace, especially in the provision of private flights for those in the sports or music industries."

"It is worth acknowledging the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was only able to successfully prosecute an individual in relation to the operation of Mr Sala's flight, because the Police accessed evidence, such as phone records and emails, under the powers of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Without access to that evidence, the CAA would never have been able to proceed with a prosecution. 

"There is no doubt that the CAA would benefit from additional powers as an enforcement agency as part of a concerted effort to clamp down on illegal flights. The coroner's Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) report rightly backs this, alongside sharing information with various organisations in the music and sports industries, who have been previously contacted by the CAA in relation to the risks associated with illegal flights.

"If the CAA's powers are increased in line with the views expressed, they will have the power to seize and inspect evidence without requiring Police support – but more importantly, it is likely that it would reduce the availability of illegal flights, which pose a clear risk to the individuals who unwittingly board them without being aware that they do not meet minimum standards".