Emiliano Sala's pilot David Ibbotson not qualified to fly at night

The late Emiliano Sala posing with Cardiff's jersey after signing for the club

The late Emiliano Sala posing with Cardiff's jersey after signing for the club

The pilot of a small plane that plunged into the English Channel with newly-signed Premier League striker Emiliano Sala on board was not authorised to fly at night, the BBC reported on Saturday.

Sources claim the pilot's licence restricted him to 'flights by day only'.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has not commented on the claims.

It is believed that the missing pilot was killed in the crash that took the life of 28-year-old Sala, who was returning to new club Cardiff City after a short farewell trip to see his former teammates at Ligue 1 club Nantes.

The BBC source said: "Colour blindness stops a pilot from obtaining a night rating straight away because being able to differentiate between green and red lights is key to flying in the dark".

According to European avation rules,"the time from half an hour after sunset until half an hour before sunrise" is defined as night time and it is worth noting that the plane carrying Ibbotson and Sala crashed at around quarter past 8 at night.

He had written on Facebook he was feeling "a bust rusty" before the flight from Nantes.

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Speculation about the legality of the flight has so far centred around the question of whether it complied with restrictions concerning private pilots flying passengers in Europe in a US-registered aircraft.

When the flight set off, it would have been approximately 70 minutes after sunset.

The report adds that the flight "must not be made for the objective of merely transporting the passenger".

The plane disappeared off radar north of Guernsey in the Channel Islands at 20:16 on January 21.

The wreckage was discovered on February 6 with Sala's body inside but Mr Ibbotson has not been found.

He reportedly said: "Dave's a terrific pilot with thousands of hours of experience and if he said he was rusty, he would have been joking".

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