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Emiliano Sala: Plane wreckage found in three parts at depth of 68m, investigators say

An interim report into the fatal crash has been released.

The wreckage of the place was found at a depth of 68 metres.
The wreckage of the place was found at a depth of 68 metres.
Image: AAIB

THE PLANE CARRYING footballer Emiliano Sala that crashed in the English Channel was found in three parts, British investigators have said.

An interim report has recorded that the main body of the plane was in three parts, held together by electrical and flying control cables.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has also said that the plane did not have a commercial licence, but would have been allowed as a “private” flight in which costs are shared between pilot and passenger.

“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,” the AAIB said in an interim report.

Pilot David Ibbotson was flying Sala to his new Premier League club Cardiff City from his previous side in Nantes in France on 21 January when the accident happened.

Football agents Willie and Mark McKay, father and son, were hired by Nantes to secure the transfer.

Speaking to The Times, Willie McKay has said that Mark arranged the flight, just as he had organised several flights for brokers of the deal in previous weeks.

The plane, a Piper PA-46 Malibu from 1984, was registered in the US, according to the report.

The investigators also said that since the pilot’s logbook and licence were not recovered, it was unclear whether Ibbotson was authorised to fly at night.

The report said the plane took off at 19.15 hours.

At 19.58, Jersey air traffic control asked the pilot if the plant’s altimeter was working because the radar indicated it was flying lower than it should have been.

The weather radar at the time showed “a band of showers, some heavy, passing through the area”.

At 20.02 the pilot requested clearance to descend.

The controller asked if the plane required another descent to which the pilot responded: “Negative, just avoided a patch there, but back on heading five thousand feet.”

At 20.12, Ibbotson did request a further descent.

The plane then descended twice and ascended twice before disappearing from the radar.

Source: Air Accidents Investigation Branch/YouTube

The wreckage was found on the seabed at a depth of approximately 68 metres, the report said, as investigators released fresh pictures of the plane.

“The aircraft was extensively damaged, and the main body of the aircraft was in three parts held together by electrical and flying control cables,” it said.

“The engine had disconnected from the cockpit areas, and the rear section of the fuselage had broken away from the forward section adjacent to the trailing edge of the wing.”

The report said two seat cushions, an arm rest and what may have been a piece of fuselage washed up on the French coast, while a seat cushion was found on Jersey.

The aircraft was not fitted with black box data and voice recorders and was not required to be.

Sala’s body was recovered from the submerged wreckage on 7 February.

© – AFP 2019

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