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  1. ITV Report

Investigation into Sala plane crash to focus on 'validity of pilot's licence'

An investigation into a crash which killed Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala will focus on the validity of the pilot's licence.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) named "regulatory requirements" as one of four areas in which further work will be carried out, following the crash on 21 January.

It said in its interim report that the type of licence held by the pilot meant he could only fly passengers in the European Union on a cost sharing basis, rather than for commercial flights.

Pilots with his licence "must have a bona fide purpose for making the flight", according to the AAIB.

New photographs of the light aircraft which crashed into the English Channel with Premier League footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot Dave Ibbotson on board were also published as part of the report.

View looking at windscreen and cockpit area Credit: AAIB

An interim report by the AAIB (Air Accident Investigation Branch) found the aircraft descended to an altitude of about 1,600ft and then 'may have climbed rapidly' to about 2,300 ft.

The report also found video footage showed the aircraft was "extensively damaged", and the main body of the aircraft was in three parts held together by electrical and flying control cables.

The aircraft remains underwater off the coast of Guernsey after an attempt to recover it was hampered by bad weather.

The report said it will also assess the possible implications of the weather conditions in the area at the time of the accident.

The Piper Malibu N264DB carrying 28-year-old Sala and 59-year-old Mr Ibbotson disappeared over the English Channel on January 21 after leaving Nantes in France for Cardiff.

A three day search by Channel Island Air search and volunteers from the RNLI was called off after crews were unable to find any trace of the aircraft.

The wreckage of the aircraft was found underwater during a privately-funded search organised by Mr Sala's family.

His body was recovered on February 6 but pilot David Ibbotson, 59, of Crowle, Lincolnshire, has not been located.

This shows the route the aircraft before it crashed into the sea. Credit: AAIB

Following the crash, two seat cushions, an arm rest and possible skin from the fuselage washed up along the coast of the Cotentin Peninsula, France.

Another seat cushion also washed up in Bonne Nuit Bay on the north coast of Jersey.

Cardiff City had signed the Argentinian striker for a club record £15 million and he was due to start training last month.

The report said Mr Ibbotson, who has 3,700 hours of flying experience, arrived at Nantes airport at 12.46 to "refuel and prepare the aircraft for flight."

The N264DB pictured at Nantes airport before take off. Credit: AAIB

At 18.36 the passenger arrived at airport security, and the aircraft taxied out for departure at 19.06.

It lost contact with Jersey radar at 20:!6 and was later found on the seabed about 30 metres from its last known position.

Mr Ibbotson's family say they have been "overwhelmed" by support as they continue to try to bring him home.

Pilot Dave Ibbotson is still missing Credit: Facebook/Dave Ibbotson

Emiliano's funeral was held in Progreso in the Argentinian province of Santa Fe on 17 February.

Mercedes Taffarel, mother of Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala, right, is comfort by Nantes defender Nicolas Pallois Credit: PA Images

Bluebirds manager Neil Warnock and chairman Ken Choo were part of the Cardiff delegation who attended the funeral.

Cardiff's manager Neil Warnock was among the delegation that travelled to Argentina for Sala's funeral Credit: PA Images