Pilot of plane crash that killed Emiliano Sala ‘was colour-blind and not qualified to fly at night’ 

The missing pilot of the plane which crashed and killed Emiliano Sala was reportedly colour-blind and not qualified to fly at night. 

David Ibbotson, 51, was flying the Piper Malibu light aircraft carrying the 28-year-old Cardiff City signing when it smashed down into the English Channel off the coast of Guernsey on the night of January 21.

Over two months since the fatal flight, it has now been revealed that the Lincolnshire pilot who taking the £15million striker held a licence which only allowed him to fly during the day.

David Ibbotson, 51, (pictured with wife Nora) was flying the Piper Malibu light aircraft carrying the 28-year-old Cardiff City signing but it has now been claimed he was not allowed to fly at night

David Ibbotson, 51, (pictured with wife Nora) was flying the Piper Malibu light aircraft carrying the 28-year-old Cardiff City signing but it has now been claimed he was not allowed to fly at night

David Ibbotson, 51, (pictured with wife Nora) was flying the Piper Malibu light aircraft carrying the 28-year-old Cardiff City signing but it has now been claimed he was not allowed to fly at night

Emilano Sala was killed when it smashed down into the English Channel off the coast of Guernsey on the night of January 21

Emilano Sala was killed when it smashed down into the English Channel off the coast of Guernsey on the night of January 21

Emilano Sala was killed when it smashed down into the English Channel off the coast of Guernsey on the night of January 21

Aviation authorities have confirmed that Mr Ibbotson – thought to be colour-blind – did not have a ‘night rating’ on his UK private pilot permit, according to the BBC

The source said: ‘Flying outside the restrictions of your licence is illegal and that’s likely to affect the insurance cover for the flight.’

This would mean that Mr Ibbotson may have breached the terms of his licence as European regulations define nighttime as ‘the time from half an hour after sunset until half an hour before sunrise’.

And the plane took off from Nantes at approximately 7pm after the flight was postponed.  

Mr Ibbotson’s UK licence was also endorsed in the US which allowed him to fly the American registered Piper Malibu. 

The Piper Malibu aircraft was flown by Mr Ibbotson on January 21 with the Cardiff City record signing as his passenger travelling from Nantes

The Piper Malibu aircraft was flown by Mr Ibbotson on January 21 with the Cardiff City record signing as his passenger travelling from Nantes

The Piper Malibu aircraft was flown by Mr Ibbotson on January 21 with the Cardiff City record signing as his passenger travelling from Nantes

But the public Federal Aviation Administration logs  show that he ‘must have available glasses for near vision’ and that ‘all limitations and restrictions on the United Kingdom pilot licence apply’. 

The Piper Malibu was ‘destroyed’ by the impact of the crash and split into three parts with the engine thrown from the cockpit, the wings smashed and the tail and fin missing completely, a robot sent to the seabed found.

A report from Air Accidents Investigation Branch last month said that n the last 15 minutes of the doomed flight the pilot David Ibbotson descended sharply four times telling air traffic control he was struggling with visibility.

Exactly 24 seconds before the fatal crash he plunged 2,400ft from 4,000ft to 1,600ft at a rate of 7,000ft per minute – equivalent to around 90mph – and then Mr Ibbotson desperately tried and failed to ‘climb rapidly’ before hitting the water. 

The pilot remains missing despite a crowdfunded private search operation led by the team which recovered Sala’s body.  

Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage of the plane more than 20 miles off the coast of Guernsey

Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage of the plane more than 20 miles off the coast of Guernsey

Sala’s body was recovered from the wreckage of the plane more than 20 miles off the coast of Guernsey

The plane was found off the coast of Guernsey where it had crashed

The plane was found off the coast of Guernsey where it had crashed

 The plane was found off the coast of Guernsey where it had crashed

Timeline: How the Sala tragedy unfolded 

January 21, 2019:

The single-turbine engine Piper PA-46 Malibu leaves Nantes at 7.15pm for Cardiff and is flying at an altitude of 5,000ft. At 8.50pm the plane disappears from radar in the English Channel.

January 22:

The French civil aviation authority confirms Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, 28, who had just signed for Cardiff City, was on board the light aircraft. Piloting the plane was David Ibbotson, from Crowle, near Scunthorpe.

January 24:

Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker says the chances Sala and Mr Ibbotson have survived is ‘extremely remote’.  

January 26:

It emerges that football agent Willie McKay arranged for the flight to take Sala to Cardiff but he says he had no involvement in selecting the plane or pilot. He also backs calls for the search to continue.

January 27:

Relatives and friends of Sala arrive in Guernsey, having enlisted the help of shipwreck hunting expert David Mearns. 

January 28:

Sala’s family, including his mother Mercedes and sister Romina, take a chartered flight in a plane operated by Guernsey airline Aurigny over the area where the plane disappeared.

January 30:

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) says two seat cushions found washed up earlier in the week near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula are likely to have come from the plane carrying Sala and his pilot.

February 3:

Wreckage of the plane is located in a fresh, privately funded search which was made possible after a fundraising campaign saw more than £260,000 donated.

Feburary 4:

A body is visible in seabed video footage of the wreckage of the plane. The AAIB says the footage was filmed using an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which was surveying the area after the plane was located.

February 6:

A body seen in the wreckage of the plane is recovered. The AAIB says the body will be taken to Portland to be passed over to the Dorset coroner for examination.

The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey. The AAIB says attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage were unsuccessful and, due to continued poor weather forecast, ‘the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close’.

February 7:

The Geo Ocean III search boat returns to dock in Portland, Dorset, carrying the wreckage of the Piper Malibu aircraft. Investigators wait to confirm if the body inside the wreckage is that of the pilot or the Argentinian footballer. 

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