- The pilot at the controls of the Piper PA-46 Malibu carrying the Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala said days before the plane’s disappearance that he was “rusty.”
- The pilot, David Ibbotson, had said on Facebook that he was “a bit rusty” with Nantes Atlantique Airport’s instrument landing system, Sky News reported.
- Ibbotson and Sala were en route to Cardiff, Wales, on Monday when their Piper Malibu aircraft disappeared over the English Channel.
- Cardiff City FC, in the English Premier League, signed Sala from Nantes FC for a club-record $20 million on Saturday.
The pilot at the controls of the small plane carrying the Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala said days before the plane’s disappearance on Monday that he was “rusty.”
The pilot, identified by UK authorities as David Ibbotson, said on Facebook over the weekend that he was “a bit rusty” with the instrument landing system – a radio navigation system that uses a series of antennas and markers to guide pilots in landings with limited visibility – at Nantes Atlantique Airport in France, Sky News reported.
The single-engine Piper PA-46 Malibu that Ibbotson was piloting with Sala aboard vanished over the English Channel en route from Nantes to Cardiff, Wales, on Monday.
What caused the disappearance of the 35-year-old plane and its two occupants remains a mystery.
The Argentine newspaper Ole published what it said were WhatsApp messages Sala sent to friends from aboard the flight in which the 28-year-old said the plane “looks like it’s about to fall apart.”
Cardiff City FC, in the English Premier League, signed Sala from Nantes FC for a club-record $20 million on Saturday. At the time, Sala was the third leading scorer in France’s Ligue 1, the BBC reported.
On Thursday, the Guernsey Police said authorities had called off their search for the missing plane and its two occupants.
The UK’s Aviation Accidents Investigation Branch confirmed that the aircraft involved in the incident is a Piper Malibu with registration N264DB. According to the US Federal Aviation Administration, the US-registered plane is owned by a company in Norfolk, England.
Documents obtained by Business Insider indicate the investigation of the incident would usually be handled by the US National Transportation Safety Board but that with more than 90% of its staff members furloughed, or temporarily laid off because of the partial government shutdown, the AAIB “accepted delegation” of the investigation.
The AAIB on Wednesday opened an investigation into the disappearance.