A 12-month suspended prison sentence was sought on Tuesday against a pilot working at a skydiving club in Tarn-et-Garonne, for decapitating a 40-year-old man wearing a wingsuit mid-flight.
On July 27, 2018, at an altitude of 4,000 metres, Nicola Galli, a flight engineer, was hit by the wing of the plane from which he had jumped ten seconds earlier.
Wingsuiting consists of jumping into a vacuum with a flexible wingsuit before opening the parachute.
The pilot, an employee of the Midi-Pyrénées skydiving school in Polloc-en-Quercy (Tarn et Garonne), should not have flown that day because his health condition prevents him from flying alone, temporarily, according to the investigation. It was carried out by the Civil Aviation Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA).
After being tried for manslaughter before the Montauban Criminal Court, the 64-year-old pilot said during the hearing that he believed his license was valid.
The Bouloc-en-Quercy skydiving school is also on trial in this case due to security breaches. The Public Prosecutor requested the imposition of a fine of 20,000 euros (28,000 Canadian dollars), including 10,000 (16,000 Canadian dollars) suspended, on the association accused of not verifying the license of its employee.
Since the tragedy occurred, security measures have been strengthened and become more stringent and media briefings have become mandatory, according to the school’s president, Isabelle Deschamps. It adds that the defendant, the club’s chief pilot, was himself responsible for checking the licenses of other pilots.
The civil party’s lawyer, Emmanuelle Frank, denounces “a lot of recklessness and negligence.”
Immediately after landing, the pilot began descending towards the airport runway. There was no consultation before jumping on what path to follow.
The president of the court pointed out that there was no communication between the victim and the pilot.
According to the Public Prosecution, “the victim is the only one who respected the regulations without negligence.”
“This tragedy affects everyone and we share the pain of the victims. This practice is very dangerous. “By flying, we reach the limits of man,” he said in defense of pilot Elsa Correa Barbares.
The decision has been reserved until November 21.