The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said “neither the pilot nor aircraft had the required licenses or permissions to operate commercially.”
The report identified that the flight was undertaken at night in poor weather conditions “despite the pilot having no training in night flying and a lack of recent practice in instrument flying.”
It also concluded the pilot had lost control of the aircraft at high speed when avoiding bad weather and that he was “probably” affected by carbon monoxide poisoning.
The plane is thought to have broken up in the air as Ibbotson attempted to regain control.
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‘Placing countless lives at risk’
Sala had been saying goodbye to his Nantes teammates after signing for Cardiff City.
His body was recovered from the wreckage on February 6, 2019, after a private search for the missing player and the pilot was commissioned by his family. Ibbotson’s body has yet to be found.
Toxicology tests found high levels of carbon monoxide in Sala’s blood which could have caused a seizure, unconsciousness or a heart attack.
Cardiff City released a statement welcoming the AAIB investigation and calling for the industry to learn from its findings.
“We are encouraged to read that the CAA is determined to tackle illegal activities by pursuing those involved, it is a practise which must be stopped and we hope the industry will be supported in order to prevent this tragedy ever happening again.”