icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
5 Feb, 2019 21:22

'Spatial disorientation' likely cause of Emiliano Sala crash – expert

'Spatial disorientation' likely cause of Emiliano Sala crash – expert

An aviation expert suggests that the crash which looks to have claimed the lives of Emiliano Sala and his pilot was due to 'spatial disorientation', a temporary inability to recognize one's position relative to their environment.

The Piper Malibu N264DB aircraft carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson was located on Sunday after going missing over the English Channel on January 21, the evening prior to Sala's first training session with Premier League club Cardiff City.

READ MORE: Sala plane tragedy: Underwater VIDEO released by investigators shows one body inside wreckage

The cause of the accident has baffled investigators as no concerns were reported by the pilot prior to the aircraft disappearing from radar, though an aviation expert has told Argentinian newspaper Clarin that he suspects the cause of the accident was related to the phenomenon of 'spatial disorientation' – a phenomenon in which pilots lose track of their position in their environment.


"As in any investigation we can only speculate on what has been published until there’s official information... But the information we have now is that this pilot was not authorised to fly with instruments," said pilot Juan Arturo del Azar, who has flown over the English Channel on numerous occasions. 

"If that is the case, it could be a lot simpler. It could simply be a case of being in a cloud, not knowing how to fly with instruments and suffering what is called spatial disorientation," he told express.co.uk.

The condition, del Azar says, can cause pilots to experience the sensation of their plane gaining in altitude when the opposite is occurring.

"Your body tells you the plane is rising and the plane is falling and vice-versa. At that point the only thing that is valid are the instruments. It's something that’s very routine but it's something for which a pilot must have a licence and training."


Spatial disorientation is thought to be the cause of the plane crash which claimed the life of John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1999.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) have assumed control of the investigation into the crash after the wreck was located by renowned shipwreck hunter David Mearns, though they have yet to confirm if efforts will be undertaken to raise the plane from its position on the seabed 67m beneath the surface.

Also on rt.com 'Nala is waiting for you': Emiliano Sala's sister posts moving image of striker's pining dog