The part-time pilot who flew Emiliano Sala from France to Wales before crashing into the Channel made ‘basic errors’ before take-off, it was revealed today.
David Ibbotson was also not allowed to take paying passengers because he only had a private licence – not a commercial one – and didn’t have the qualifications to fly in bad weather but took their plane into a winter storm, it has also emerged.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) will release its interim report into the accident at 2pm on Monday.
But ahead of that publication new documents from France have emerged about Mr Ibbotson’s qualifications and pre-flight preparations.
Images uploaded to social media by Fox Sports journalist Christian Martin appear to show that in his flight plan Mr Ibbotson, a boiler engineer by trade, made a number of ‘basic errors’.
One image shows how Ibbotson apparently incorrectly filled in the plane’s licence number on the form, writing N246DB instead of N264DB.
The pilot also reportedly used Visual Flight Rules (VFR) instead of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).
This means his qualifications only allowed him to fly at night if conditions were clear without any bad weather.
But the plane flew into a storm over the Channel and it is feared the instruments froze before the aircraft crashed into the sea.
Mr Martin claims the paperwok shows Mr Ibbotson accepted ‘the disregard of flying with instruments, key to flying between clouds without visibility. 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 some 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 to be allowed, known as visual meteorological conditions (VMC).
When the operation of an aircraft under VFR is not safe, because the visual cues outside the aircraft are obscured by weather, instrument flight rules (IFR) must be used instead
Martin also appeared to confirm MailOnline’s exclusive that Mr Ibbotson was not authorised to take paying passengers because of his private pilot’s licence.
A private search is underway to find Ibbotson’s body with his family having raised over £240,000 to pay for it.
Investigators removed Mr Sala’s body from the Piper Malibu N264DB a fortnight ago and ended their attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage because of poor weather.
His body was brought to Portland, Dorset, by the Geo Ocean III boat, and taken on a stretcher to an ambulance, before being transferred to the coroner.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the families of both men had been kept informed of progress, and identification of the body was a matter for the police and coroner for Dorset.
The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel.
The remains of the plane were discovered two weeks ago. It had disappeared on January 21 as it travelled from Nantes in France to Cardiff.
The AAIB said previously that the work of the ROVs has been hampered by the difficult tidal conditions around the Channel Islands.
The plane had requested to descend before it lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.
An official search operation was called off on January 24 after Guernsey’s harbour master David Barker said the chances of survival following such a long period were ‘extremely remote’
The remains of the aircraft were tracked down by a team co-ordinated by ocean scientist David Mearns, who has located some of the most elusive wrecks in the world.
Mr Mearns and his team located the aircraft within two hours of starting their search.
He told the Press Association the discovery had been so quick because the team had been looking for a static object rather than in a dynamic environment searching for survivors.
‘No-one should walk away with the impression that the Coastguard and also the Channel Islands air search did anything other than a professional job,’ he said.
Cardiff had signed Sala, a 28-year-old Argentinian striker, for a club record £15 million.
It has emerged that Nantes has demanded payment from Cardiff for the player’s transfer.
It is understood Cardiff received a letter from Nantes on Tuesday, in which the French Ligue 1 club threatened to take legal action if the first scheduled payment of the fee is not made within 10 days.
It is believed Cardiff have been left surprised by the demand, considering the circumstances and the timing, and would rather the investigation into the tragedy is completed first.