Sala pilot was ‘rusty’, plane unlicensed
AN interim report by the Air Accidents Investigations branch states pilot David Ibbotson did not have the correct licence and the Piper Malibu plane was not permitted to fly commercially.
The report reveals the US-registered plane did not have approval to be flown commercially and had not sought permission to do so.
According to The Sun, the report states: "[The plane] 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."
Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, Lincolsnhire, is also confirmed to have held a private pilot's licence - but not a commercial one.
Investigators also revealed the plane plunged at a rate of around 7,000ft-a-minute after twice requesting permission to descend in order to gain better visibility in heavy fog.
In its final seconds, the report says radar signals suggest the plane climbed rapidly from around 1,600ft to about 2,300ft.
The plane lost contact with air traffic control just seconds later.
Mr Ibbotson's private licence meant he could only fly passengers in the European Union on a 'cost sharing' basis, and not for any commercial profit.
The 'cost sharing' arrangement allows for individuals to split the expenses of a private flight, but Mr Ibbotson would have had to have paid at least half of the costs.
The Sun previously revealed the pilot was battling £18,000 ($A33,000) of debts at the time of the crash.
PILOT MADE 'STRING OF BASIC ERRORS', EXPERT STATES
David Ibbotson decided not to use flight instruments that were vital to flying through cloudy conditions on the night of the doomed flight to Cardiff, it has been claimed.
He also filled the Malibu-Piper aircraft's licence number incorrectly on his flight plan form.
The damning claims have been made by Argentinian journalist Christian Martin.
Martin, who works for Fox News, claimed Mr Ibbotson used Visual Flight Rules (VFR) instead of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) on the night of January 21.
This means he accepted "the disregard of flying with instruments, key to flying between clouds without the visibility of a horizontal line."
That night there were many clouds and a cold snap over the English Channel. Martin described the mistakes as "basic errors".
In order for pilots to fly VFR, they cannot fly through clouds and in types of airspace they have to be able to see the ground.
Under VFR pilots are responsible for seeing other aircraft and avoiding collisions and it requires a minimum standard of weather conditions to be present.
When the operation of an aircraft under VFR is not safe, IFR must be used instead. It is claimed that Ibbotson didn't do this.
PILOT STATED HE WAS 'RUSTY' WITH PLANE CONTROLS
The report states Mr Ibbotson arrived in Nantes two days before the flight on January 19.
Mr Ibbotson, 59, had written he was "a bit rusty with the ILS (Instrument Landing System)" on Facebook after arriving at the airport.
He later wrote: "Was not to (sic) bad when I got there but I'm a bit rusty with the ils, in France now."
A friend replied: "Rusty with the ILS?! I can't believe that!"
Mr Ibbotson added: "You wanna bet, a little on the high side hehe, better than on the low side."
Sala arrived at the airport at 6.36pm on the night of January 21 and the flight took off exactly half an hour later.
The plane made last contact with air traffic control over the Channel Islands at 8.16pm.
The wreckage of the plane was found on the sea bed - along with Sala's body - just 30 metres from where the last contact was made.
The Argentinian footballer had just signed for Cardiff City from French club Nantes for £15 million ($A27 million) when the plane crashed into the Channel on January 21.
This story first appeared in The Sun and is republished with permission.