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30 Jan 2019

NEWS UPDATE: Two Seat Cushions 'Likely To Have Come From Plane Carrying Missing Cardiff City Star Emiliano Sala' Are Found Washed Up On A Beach

Crash investigators have found two seat cushions which they believe are from the plane which was carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala when it disappeared over the English Channel.

The two seat cushions washed up on the same area of coastline, near the Normandy town of Surtainville, around 30 miles from the plane's last location.
A light aircraft carrying Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala disappeared from radar last week
The Argentinian striker's family are currently in Europe after raising funds to launch their own, private, search for the wreckage of the plane.

They will be hoping the latest discovery could be the first step towards finding out what happened to the 28-year-old player and the pilot flying him from Nantes in France.



On Monday, the footballer's mother Mercedes and sister Romina flew over the area where Sala's plane was last located.
Investigators believe they found two seats from the plane on a French beach on Monday
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said today: 'On the morning of Monday 28 January, we were advised by the the French safety investigation authority that part of a seat cushion had been found on a beach near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula.

'A second cushion was found in the same area later that day. From a preliminary examination we have concluded that it is likely that the cushions are from the missing aircraft.

Cushions from the seats of the plane have been found washed up on a beach, it emerged today
A 'priority search area' of around four square nautical miles has been established and a specialist vessel has been commissioned to carry out a survey of the seabed.

The AAIB statement said: 'We currently expect our underwater seabed search to start at the end of this weekend and to take up to three days. Side-scan sonar equipment will be used to try to locate the wreckage on the seabed.

'If the wreckage is found, a remotely operated vehicle will be used to visually examine the wreckage.'
Pilot David Ibbotson was at the controls of the plane when it disappeared from radar last week
Sala's heartbroken mother, Mercedes (centre) and his sister Romina (right) have visited Guernsey and flown over the plane's last known location
The light aircraft carrying 28-year-old Sala and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared on January 21 after losing contact with Jersey air traffic control on its journey from Nantes to Cardiff.

Sala's mother and sister travelled on a plane which flew from Guernsey Airport on Monday, and circled the island of Alderney, a week after the plane Sala was in dropped off the radar.

The family have enlisted marine scientist David Mearns to help with a private search and the official investigation is sharing information with their team.

The AAIB statement today said: 'We are aware that a privately operated search is also being conducted in the area, and we are liaising closely with those involved to maximise the chance of locating any wreckage and ensure a safe search operation.'

Mr Mearns, who is in charge of the private search, said today a boat he has organised will work closely with an AAIB vessel in the coming days.

He tweeted: 'The privately funded search for the plane carrying Emiliano will be conducted, on behalf of the Sala family, in close coordination with the AAIB search effort.

'The two vessels will work together to search the designated area as safely, completely and efficiently as possible.'

The plane is thought to have crashed into the English Channel due to ice either becoming clogged in the propeller or affecting the wings.

It was en route to Cardiff where Sala was joining his new Cardiff teammates after signing from French side Nantes.

However, after an hour, the pilot asked air traffic control for permission to reduce altitude from 5,000ft to 2,300ft.
It is thought he may have been trying to get to warmer air after the propeller or wings became covered in ice. But a short time later, the Guernsey coastguard was alerted that the aircraft had disappeared from radar screens.

Aviation experts have questioned why the single-propeller light aircraft was being flown in freezing conditions over the English Channel at night, where a crash into freezing water in the dark would have made survival difficult.

They have also queried why Mr Ibbotson, a part-time pilot and gas engineer who was not licensed to carry paying passengers, was drafted in at the last minute to fly the plane.
It is claimed that he aborted three takeoffs and joked with friends on Facebook that he was a 'bit rusty' in the days before.

Players and fans held a minute's silence ahead of Cardiff City's match with Arsenal last night.
Sala's name was also alongside teammates on the matchday programme and a banner held up by fans read: 'We never saw you play and never saw you score, but Emiliano our beautiful Bluebird we will love you forever more'.

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