Pilot for Sala didn't have commercial licence

David Ibbotson

David Ibbotson

Cardiff City have outlined "grave concerns" about pilot David Ibbotson's licence and the legality of the flight that carried Emiliano Sala following an interim Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report.

An experienced football administrator at the top of the English game told Sportsmail that if the flight was not fully licensed to fly Sala, then Cardiff's insurance policy might be invalidated.

Sala's body was found inside the wreckage of the Piper Malibu N264DB, nearly two weeks after it vanished from radar over the English Channel.

Pilot Dave Ibbotson, who is still missing after the crash, was entitled to transport the player on a private basis, but he would have needed to pay at least half the operating costs of the flight, under aviation rules on the carrying of passengers.

The ratings on Mr Ibbotson's licence - for example whether he had an Instrument Rating or Night Rating - had also not been established.

The AAIB said the plane took off from Nantes Airport at 1915 GMT.

At 2012 GMT, Ibbotson did request a further descent.

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However the AAIB has not yet narrowed down on the exact cause of the plane crash, but initial radar readings seem to suggest that the plane ascended rapidly before its final descent.

Alongside the information, new pictures of the plane wreckage have been released.

The latest update confirmed the single-turbine plane was found "in three parts held together by electrical and flying control cables" and that it had undergone a scheduled maintenance in November 2018.

"The engine had disconnected from the cockpit area, and the rear section of the fuselage had broken away from the forward section adjacent to the trailing edge of the wing". Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage two weeks later, but the pilot has not been found.

The family of Ibbotson, from Crowle in Lincolnshire, hope that a fresh search for his body will begin this week, after an online crowdfunding campaign raised more than £250,000.

The aircraft was not fitted with black box data and voice recorders and was not required to be.

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