Emiliano Sala's pilot was 'colorblind' and therefore 'not qualified to fly at night', claims report

Emiliano Sala's pilot was 'colorblind' and therefore 'not qualified to fly at night', claims report
picture of Emiliano Sala (Source : Getty Images)

In a recent update, it is now being reported that the pilot who crashed the plane carrying soccer star Emiliano Sala on board was "not qualified to fly at night" and was colorblind.

According to BBC Wales, the doomed flight set off more than an hour after sunset, which meant pilot David Ibbotson may have been flying illegally, stated a report by The Sun.

The single turbine-engine Piper PA-46 Malibu was being controlled by the 59-year-old father-of-four when it took off at 7.15 pm and disappeared off the Channel Islands, according to an earlier report by MEA WorldWide (MEAWW)

According to reports, David was down £18,000 ($23,480) in debts and only had a private pilot's license, rather than a commercial license. Also, David did not hold a "night rating" on his UK private pilot's license, regulatory authorities reportedly confirmed, meaning he was restricted to "flights by day only."

"Colour-blindness stops a pilot from obtaining a night rating straight away because being able to differentiate between green and red lights is key to flying in the dark," a source told BBC Wales. "Anything that's on the UK license applies to the US license as well, so he couldn't do anything more than the UK license allows."

The source added, "Flying outside the restrictions of your license is illegal and that's likely to affect the insurance cover for the flight."

According to European aviation rules, night time flying begins half an hour after sunset and ends half an hour before sunrise. However, while Sala's flight was due to take off from Nantes airport at 9 am local time January 21, it was postponed until 7 pm — which is around an hour and 10 minutes after sunset.

While the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AIIB) said licensing "continues to be a focus" of its investigations, it is yet to be understood why the unqualified flier was entrusted with bringing the Premier League club’s £15m ($19.5m) record signing from France.

Before the tragedy, Ibbotson was promoting his plumbing and gas-fitting business and asking friends to give him good ratings online. At the same time, he touted for flying work on several "odd-job" Facebook pages and was heavily in debt.

At the time of the crash, he was reportedly subject to four outstanding county court judgments. The dad-of-four from Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, was desperately trying to pay back his loans by taking on part-time flying jobs after having clocked thousands of hours on less demanding, casual trips.

In a shocking revelation, Ibbotson told his Facebook pals he was feeling "a bit rusty" hours before the plane carrying the 28-year-old Argentine striker vanished off the radar on Monday evening.


"Dave’s a terrific pilot with thousands of hours of experience and if he said he was rusty, he would have been joking," an unnamed friend told The Sun. "He has always done it for fun and I was never aware of him being paid to fly in all the 20 years I knew him — but he’d never take the controls of a plane he couldn’t handle. His main job was as a self-employed gas engineer but he was a DJ as well in his spare time playing old school stuff — Dave was always the life and soul of the party."



Another friend commented: "I always thought he was a better plumber than he was a pilot. We never really considered him a pilot, he was just the man at the controls when parachutists went up. I think we knew he did the odd bit of flying on the side to earn a bit of crust — but nothing as big as the France job. He’s a good northern lad — he’s always worked hard and played hard."

It has now come to light that Sala's agent Mark McKay may have hired Ibbotson at the 11th hour to fly his client to and from Nantes after the footballer was eager to get back and train with his new team.

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