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Details of Sala accident emerge in simulation

How a flight simulator exercise may shed light on Sala's ill-fated flight

February 19, 2019 By Oscar Rojas
Added to this exercise, the investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch is expected to share its findings in the next couple of weeks.

The mystery behind the causes that led to Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson's demise may find an answer with the use of technology and some seasoned pilots.

Sala's funeral took place on Sunday, but that has not stopped authorities from keeping their investigation about why the Piper Malibu aircraft vanished from all radars on January 21. Before the official investigation comes to light, a flight simulator exercise requested by the Grimsby Telegraph shares more details and probable causes on why the plane ended on the bottom of the ocean.

The simulation begins when pilot David Ibbotson finally took off, since the aircraft needed up to three attempts to get off the runway. Then, the simulation breaks down all the details recorded by aviation authorities supervising that flight, especially those that had something to do with the flight's altitude, speed and temperature.

The simulation uses official weather data in the area from that day, showing the world that the pilot had to deal with squalls, rain and sleet showers. With 40 miles left to reach the Channel Islands, Ibbotson remained cruising at an altitude of 5,000 feet, which probably led to icing of the wings and tail of the aircraft, due to the pilot's inability to make it around the clouds.

Then, at 8:25 p.m., Ibbotson's request to descend was recorded, probably because icing might had started to build up on the aircraft, according to experts. The last moment in which the aircraft was found on radar came when it hit 2,300 ft.

Turbulence, pockets of air and strong gusts of wind come with the end of the simulation, which were generated by the computer program by taking under consideration weather reports from that day. According to the simulation and expert commercial pilots, the aircraft's descent into the ocean could have lasted as little as 15 seconds.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is expected to file its report in the next few weeks. While details of their investigation have not been revealed, it is safe to say that this kind of technology may be used to determine the real causes of what happened to the Piper Malibu aircraft that was supposed to take Sala to Cardiff. 


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