The Cardiff City striker tragically died when the aircraft he was flying in crashed into the English Channel in January
An interim report into the tragic Emiliano Sala plane crash has suggested that David Ibbotson might ‘not have been qualified’ to have piloted the flight – and the Piper Malibu aircraft may not have had the correct permissions to make the journey.
Striker Sala died while flying between Nantes, France, and Cardiff following his £15million move to the Premier League club.
The plane crashed into the English Channel on January 21, sparking an operation to find the wreckage and the remains of the two people on board – with Sala’s body identified while Ibbotson is still missing.
A report released by the air accident investigation branch on Monday suggested that Ibbotson might not have had the appropriate licence to fly the plane.
The report said: “A PPL (private licence) does not allow a pilot to carry passengers for reward; to do so requires a commercial licence.
“The basis on which the passenger was being carried on N264DB has not yet been established but, previously, the pilot had carried passengers on the basis of ‘cost sharing’.
“Cost sharing allows a private pilot to carry passengers and for those passengers to contribute towards the actual cost of the flight. Cost sharing brings benefits to private pilots who, by sharing the expense of their flying, can fly more than they might otherwise be able to, thereby increasing their level of experience.
“A higher level of regulatory burden applies to commercial, compared with private flights (such as more stringent medical, licencing and airworthiness requirements), and the additional requirements increase the level of safety assurance.
“His logbook and licence were not recovered from the aircraft, and the ratings on his licences and their validity dates have not yet been established.
“If the flight was planned to be operated on a cost sharing basis, FAA rules regarding pro rata costs and a common purpose were applicable.”
The report also suggested that the single-engine Piper Malibu plane, made in 1984 and had flown 6,636 hours, did not have permission to make the journey.
It stated: “N264DB was registered in the USA and could not be used for commercial operations without permission from the FAA and CAA.
“At the time of writing there was no evidence that such permission had been sought or granted.
“To fly an aircraft registered in the USA between EASA Member States, a pilot must operate using the privileges of an FAA licence.”
he report also gave further details of the last moments of Sala and Ibbotson.
It said that the aircraft took off and initially climbed to 5,500 ft. Later, the pilot requested a descent to remain in ‘Visual Meteorological Conditions’.
It reads: “The last radio contact with the aircraft was with Jersey Radar at 2012 hrs, when the pilot asked for a further descent.
“The aircraft’s last recorded secondary radar point was at 2016:34 hrs… The wreckage of N264DB was subsequently found on the seabed about 30 metres from the position of the last secondary radar point recorded by the radar at Guernsey.”