A report into the death of footballer Emiliano Sala has found that neither the pilot nor plane had the required licence to operate commercial flights.
Sala died on January 21 last year, when the plane he was travelling in from Nantes in France to Cardiff came down in the English Channel. The body of the pilot, David Ibbotson, has never been found.
At £15m, Sala was Cardiff City’s record signing. He had played for Nantes for four years and was the club’s star striker, having scored 42 goals in 120 games.
Shortly before the fatal crash, he sent WhatsApp messages to friends, saying he thought the Piper Malibu aircraft was going to fall apart.
Friday’s report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch has found that the pilot, Ibbotson, lost control of the plane during a manually-flown turn, which was more likely to have happened because the flight was “not conducted in accordance with safety standards applicable to commercial operation”.
Ibbotson, who was colour blind, had no previous training to fly at night and his SEP rating, which allowed him to fly a single-engine piston aeroplane, had expired three months before the accident.
He was paid for the flight, even though his licence didn’t permit it.