News Live Scores
Emiliano Sala

Emiliano Sala plane crash: Pilot did not have required licence

17:21 GMT+3 13/03/2020
Emiliano Sala
David Ibbotson was not licensed to fly the aircraft carrying the former Nantes footballer which went down over the English channel last year

The pilot of the plane crash that killed footballer Emiliano Sala, David Ibbotson, did not have the required licences or permissions to fly commercially.

Both men died when the Piper Malibu light aircraft went down on January 21, 2019, as Sala flew from French outfit Nantes to his new club Cardiff City in Wales after completing a £15 million ($19m) transfer.

The body of Argentine forward Sala, 28, was recovered from the wreckage, but the body of 59-year-old Mr Ibbotson was never found.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch published an official report on Friday that concluded the plane hit the sea near Guernsey at an estimated 270 mph (434kph).

Investigators believe Mr Ibbotson and Sala both suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning on the flight, which was likely caused by a fault in the exhaust tailpipe.

The pilot pulled up to avoid adverse weather conditions and the aircraft broke up as he tried to regain control, before descending into a dive and entering the water upside down.

It would have been impossible for either man to have survived the crash, such was the force of impact after the left wing of the aircraft came away on the way down.

Principal Inspector Brian McDermid said of the accident: "The aircraft was extensively damaged and the wreckage was in three parts, held together by electrical and flying control cables. 

"The engine had disconnected from the cockpit area, and the rear section of the fuselage had broken away from the forward section.

"The cockpit area and instrument panel were badly disrupted, such that it would not have been possible with any confidence to determine the position of controls and switches before the crash."

The AAIB report found that Mr Ibbotson owned a private pilot’s licence, but it did not permit him to receive payment for carrying passengers.

He had also not completed night-flying training, and the Piper Malibu should not have been flown commercially due to regulations it was operated under.

Mr Ibbotson was colourblind and his SEP rating had expired three months before the crash, which qualified him to fly a single-engine piston aeroplane.

Sala was Cardiff City's record signing and was due to undertake a new challenge in the Premier League after spending four years at Nantes.

He scored 42 goals in 120 games for Ligue 1 club, who released a special commemorative shirt in honour of the striker in January.