- A veteran pilot was beheaded by a plane’s wing when their air paths crossed.
- Alain Sy, the pilot, faces a manslaughter trial in France over the 2018 accident.
- Nicholas Galli, 40, was a passenger on the Alan C. plane and was injured when the plane landed.
Seconds after jumping from a plane over the southern French countryside, pilot Nicolas Galli crashed into the plane’s left wing, a court in Montauban heard on Tuesday.
The impact decapitated Galli, a 40-year-old aeronautical engineer and veteran skydiver, at an altitude of about 14,400 feet, according to investigators.
The horrific accident, which occurred in July 2018, was the focus of the manslaughter trial against Alan See, the pilot of the single-engine plane. According to the French channel BFMTV.
The defendant, identified as Alan C., an employee of a local skydiving school, could face a 12-month suspended prison sentence recommended by prosecutors, according to the outlet.
His plane was carrying Galley, a second pilot in a wingsuit, and several paratroopers over the Pollock-en-Quercy area, according to a report from the Civil Aviation Accident Investigation Office seen by Insider.
After unloading his passengers, Alan C. began to descend quickly, according to the report.
As the plane descended, the two wingsuit pilots had completed their free fall and began gliding in their suits, according to the report.
That’s when the plane caught up with Galley and struck him, killing the engineer and causing his emergency parachute to deploy, according to investigators.
A camera mounted on the second pilot’s helmet captured the collision, and officials said they used the footage in their investigation.
Alan C. told investigators that he lost sight of Ghaly and his wingsuit-wearing colleague after they jumped, but said this was normal and that he veered his plane away from where he assumed their glide paths would be.
BFMTV reported from court hearings on Tuesday that the pilots and wingsuit pilots did not discuss their planned routes with each other.
“Compared to free-falling parachutists, it is more complicated with parachutists who move more in a straight line,” Alain Sy told the Montauban court. According to the Times of London. “They don’t land very often and can interfere with the plane.”
He said he expected Galley to be heading north, and that the winged plane did not follow “the expected path and should never have been on that path,” according to the Times.
Prosecutors disagreed and argued that Galley adhered to the correct procedures. “The victim was the only one who obeyed the rules without negligence,” prosecutor Jeanne Rigion told The Times.
Alan See said responsibility for Galli’s death was not his, according to the outlet. “I think my itinerary was logical. This was the tragedy of my life, but I’m not wrong,” he said.
But he was also found to have violated regulations during the 2018 flight. His pilot’s license carried a medical restriction at the time that prevented him from flying alone, according to an Air Accident Bureau investigation report.
Alan See admitted in court that his license was invalid for the trip that day, according to The Times.
His employer, the Midi-Pyrenees Parachute School, also faces a $10,600 fine for failing to verify Alain C.’s license.
The head of the skydiving school, Isabelle Deschamps, told the court that security measures at the school had been tightened and that detailed flight briefings had been made mandatory there, according to BFMTV.
A lawyer for the Midi-Pyrenees Parachute School did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside normal business hours.
The ruling in the case is scheduled to be announced on November 21.
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