The pilot of Vittorio Missoni’s missing plane had an expired medical fitness certificate, and the company operating the aircraft did not have permission to fly, according to Italy’s air safety agency.
The country’s National Flight Safety Agency stressed that the information is not a factor or a “direct, correlating cause” for the plane’s disappearance.
ABC News reports that they are simply facts that have been gathered during the investigation. The plane carrying Missoni and three other Italian tourists disappeared over Venezuela on January 4.
Two crew members were also aboard the BN-2 Islander when it dropped off radar screens shortly after taking off from the Los Roques resort islands on its way to Caracas.
Italy sent four of its experts to assist with the search for Missoni, the CEO of his family’s fashion empire, and three other Italians. The agency released a statement on Tuesday, saying that the company operating the plane didn’t have the certificate required for aircraft operators.
Asdrubal Bermudez, the president and owner of the airplane company, Transaero 5074, stated last week that, while the company hadn’t received its certification yet, the plane was compliant with all safety requirements before takeoff, according to The New York Post.
The pilot, German Marchan, 72, had his license expire on November 30, 2012. Another pilot who took off shortly after the fated flight with Missoni reported seeing the missing plane disappear into a cumulus cloud, where he believes it was struck by lightning.
Missoni’s family continues to hold out hope that the designer and the plane’s five other passengers were kidnapped. The son of another passenger, Guido Foresti, supposedly received a strange text message from Foresti’s phone days after the plane disappeared. Police are still investigating the source.
Seven minutes after Missoni’s plane took off, the pilot radioed to the control tower, saying that he was at 5,000 feet and 10 nautical miles away from the Low Roques airport. The last radar readings show the aircraft continuing to accelerate at 5,400 feet, at which time it quickly lost altitude and speed. It progressively veered to the right until it completely disappeared from radar.