Wreckage of the plane carrying Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala was found in three parts on the seabed, according to an official report.
The broken body of the Piper Malibu aircraft was held together by cables, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.
The 28-year-old died when the plane he was in with pilot David Ibbotson, 59, crashed in the English Channel en route from Nantes to Cardiff on 21 January.
The AAIB is investigating the crash.
Its interim report into what happened said the plane was found “extensively damaged” – the wreckage was held together by electrical and flying control cables, while the engine was disconnected from the cockpit area.
The AAIB said it had been unable to establish how much flying pilot Mr Ibbotson had done recently, as his pilot’s licence and logbook had been lost with the aircraft, Piper Malibu N264DB.
Investigators would normally look to establish how many hours a pilot had flown in the preceding 28 and 90 days before a crash.
The ratings on Mr Ibbotson’s licence – for example whether he had an Instrument Rating or Night Rating – had also not been established.
Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, North Lincolnshire, had approximately 3,700 flying hours and held a private pilot’s licence in the UK and US.
A private pilot’s licence does not allow a pilot to carry passengers for reward.
The report states that “the basis on which the passenger was being carried on N264DB has not yet been established but, previously, the pilot had carried passengers on the basis of ‘cost sharing’.”
Argentine footballer Sala was killed when the single-engine light aircraft, flown by Mr Ibbotson, crashed near Alderney just two days after he completed his transfer to Premier League side Cardiff from French club Nantes – for a club record of £15m.
He was returning to the Welsh capital after flying back to France to say goodbye to his former teammates.