The ongoing investigation into the crash in the English Channel that killed footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson in January this year has focused minds of industry lobby groups, owners and operators into the penalties and risks involved in illegal or ‘grey’ charters. The case for stronger deterrents, education and improved enforcement of regulations was made very strongly at the recent Air Charter Expo conference held at Biggin Hill Airport.
Air Charter Association CEO Dave Edwards noted that there had been just 14 successful prosecutions for illegal charters from 2005 to 2016. Chair of the British Business & General Aviation Association (BBGA) Aoife O’Sullivan went further, saying: “Fines are pointless and they are not being enforced”. She added that legislation had to be changed to reflect the nature of the problem. Panellists at the conference agreed that better education for operators and charterers was essential.