Missoni's Venezuela pilot, airline not licenced -Italy probe

ROME Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:57am EST

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ROME Jan 15 (Reuters) - The airline and the pilot of a plane that went missing in Venezuela on Jan. 4 with Italian fashion executive Vittorio Missoni, his wife and four others on board were not licenced to fly, Italian investigators said on Tuesday.

Italy's agency for flight security, ANSV, said its investigation had found that the airline that owned the plane was not fully licenced to operate and that the pilot's licence had expired on Nov. 30, more than a month before the flight.

The plane carrying Missoni, 58, his wife, Maurizia Castiglioni, another couple, a Venezuelan crew member, and the pilot - who was in his early 70s - disappeared after taking off from the resort of Los Roques, an archipelago off the coast.

Italy has sent rescue personnel to help in the search for the plane.

Missoni is the oldest child of the founders of the fashion house famous for its exuberantly coloured knits, featuring bold stripes and zigzags. He is co-owner with siblings Luca and Angela, who handle the technical and design sides of the firm. (Reporting by Antonella Cinelli; Writing by Philip Pullella; Editing by Louise Ireland)