2019 Piper PA-46 Malibu crash
On 21 January 2019, a Piper PA-46 Malibu light aircraft transporting Argentine football player Emiliano Sala crashed in the English Channel off Alderney, Channel Islands. The aircraft was travelling from Nantes, France, to Cardiff, Wales. The wreckage of the aircraft was found thirteen days later on the seabed at a depth of 220 feet (67 m). On 7 February, Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage. No trace of the pilot was found.
The wreckage of N264DB, the Piper Malibu involved, resting on the sea floor
|Date||21 January 2019|
|Summary||Lost at sea; wreckage found on seabed; under investigation|
|Site||English Channel, off Alderney, Channel Islands |
|Aircraft type||Piper PA-46 Malibu|
|Flight origin||Nantes Atlantique Airport, Nantes, France|
|Destination||Cardiff Airport, Cardiff, Wales|
The aircraft departed from Nantes Atlantique Airport at 19:15 GMT (20:15 CET) bound for Cardiff Airport. Sala had been signed two days previously by Cardiff City Football Club from FC Nantes. The pilot was identified by Guernsey Police as David Ibbotson. Shortly before contact with Jersey air traffic control was lost, a request was made by the pilot to descend from 5,000 feet (1,500 m) to 2,500 feet (760 m), in order to maintain visual meteorological conditions. Contact was lost when the aircraft was at an altitude of 2,300 feet (700 m). At 20:23 GMT, Guernsey Coastguard received an alert from Jersey air traffic control saying that a plane had gone off the radar around 13 nautical miles (24 km; 15 mi) north of Guernsey. The plane was then around 7 nautical miles (13 km; 8 mi) northwest of Alderney, Channel Islands, near Casquets lighthouse.
Sala reportedly sent an audio message via WhatsApp expressing concerns during the flight, saying "I am now on board a plane that seems like it is falling to pieces... If you do not have any more news in an hour and a half, I don't know if they need to send someone to find me. I am getting scared!" Cardiff City had offered Sala a commercial flight from Paris, but he said that he had made alternative arrangements and would be training with his teammates on the morning after the flight. The flight was arranged by football agent Willie McKay, who said that he was not involved in selecting the plane or the pilot. It was reported in French media that the flight was arranged through pilot David Henderson, who had originally intended to fly the plane, but the flight had been given to David Ibbotson. The flight plan showed that the plane was scheduled to take off at 09:00 GMT (10:00 CET) on 21 January, but was delayed until the evening.
The aircraft involved was a Piper PA-46 Malibu, a six-seat type equipped with a single piston engine, registered in the United States as N264DB, serial number 46-8408037. The aircraft was manufactured in 1984. The Certificate of Registration had been issued on 11 September 2015.
A search and rescue operation was launched, but was suspended at 02:00 GMT on 22 January due to worsening weather conditions. Although outside the United Kingdom's area of responsibility, HMCG sent two helicopters to assist in the search for the aircraft. A French helicopter was also sent to participate in the search, as were the Alderney and Guernsey lifeboats.
The search resumed at 08:00 GMT on 22 January. By 11:45 GMT, a total of 755 square nautical miles (2,590 km2; 1,000 sq mi) had been covered by five aircraft and two lifeboats, but no trace of the aircraft had been found. A French Navy vessel also participated in the search. As of 15:30 GMT on 22 January, one aircraft and one lifeboat were still searching, bringing the total area covered to 872 square nautical miles (2,991 km2; 1,155 sq mi). The search was again suspended in the evening of 22 January. Floating objects had been found, but it was not confirmed that they came from the missing aircraft. The search resumed at 08:00 GMT on 23 January with two aircraft searching coastal areas around Alderney. As of 11:30 GMT, a helicopter and three aircraft were continuing the search and trying to review satellite imagery and mobile phone data; there was still no trace of the missing aircraft.
On 23 January, the Channel Islands Air Search said they had abandoned hope of finding any survivors in the water. The search now focused on the possibility that survivors were on a life raft in the English Channel. The official search was called off on 24 January because the chances of survival were said to be "extremely remote". The search had covered 1,284 square nautical miles (4,403 km2; 1,700 sq mi) of land and sea, covering Burhou, Les Casquets, Alderney, the north coast of the Cherbourg Peninsula, and the north coast of Jersey and Sark.
Sala's family launched a fundraising appeal to find his body and a private search was launched on 26 January, funded by £259,000 raised in donations, via a specialised organisation. On 28 January, marine scientist David Mearns, who led the search, announced that a search vessel with an unmanned remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) was expected to be in place "by the end of the week". They planned to focus on some 25 square nautical miles (86 km2; 33 sq mi) of the seabed; the last known position of the aircraft was north of Hurd's Deep. In the meantime, two fishing boats were being used to carry out a surface search of the area. Mearns engaged the FPV Morven for the search.
On 30 January 2019, at approximately 13:58 GMT, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) reported that two seat cushions, found near Surtainville in France, were likely to be from the missing aircraft. AAIB identified a priority search area of approximately four square nautical miles (14 km2; 5 sq mi) and commissioned a survey vessel from the British Ministry of Defence with sonar equipment to search the seabed for the aircraft. The AAIB search carried out by the vessel Geo Ocean III started on 3 February, together with the private search, and was expected to last up to three days; the private search was set to continue "until the plane is located". The planned search was to cover an area of four square nautical miles (14 km2; 5 sq mi) about 24 nautical miles (44 km; 28 mi) north of Guernsey. The search area was divided between the two teams.
On 3 February, wreckage of the aircraft was found on the seabed at about 0.5 nautical miles (1 km; 0.6 mi) from the last known location. The wreckage was at a depth of 220 feet (67 m) and there was a possibility that the bodies of Sala and Ibbotson were still on board. On 4 February, it was confirmed that the image from the AAIB search remote submersible had shown the registration mark and at least one body inside the wreckage.
On 7 February, a body was recovered from the wreckage and was taken to the Isle of Portland to be passed to the Dorset coroner, where it was identified as that of Sala, by means of fingerprint evidence. Attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage were unsuccessful and poor weather conditions forced the salvage team to return the ROV to the ship. On 11 February, the results of a post-mortem reported that Sala had died of "head and trunk injuries".
The daughter of the pilot David Ibbotson launched a crowdfunding appeal to locate his body and on 10 February the fund received a donation of £27,000 from French footballer Kylian Mbappé. Former England captain Gary Lineker also donated £1,000. As of 23 February 2019[update], £249,000 of the £300,000 target had been raised. The search was to include a dive to the wreck to rule out the body being there, and a helicopter search of coastal areas in the Channel Islands. On 27 February, it was reported that a 20-minute dive to the wreck had discovered no body.
On 23 January, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch opened an investigation into the accident. Assistance is being given by the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses, Junta de Investigación de Accidentes de Aviación Civil and National Transportation Safety Board. Part of the investigation will cover the operational aspects related to the accident including licensing and flight plans. It was reported that David Ibbotson held a private pilot licence, which would not have permitted him to carry passengers for profit, or to arrange a flight with the sole purpose of carrying a passenger. It was additionally reported that while at Nantes Atlantique Airport, Ibbotson had posted on Facebook that he was "a bit rusty" with the instrument landing system on the Piper Malibu. Ibbotson had undergone training to become a commercial pilot between 2012 and 2014, but had dropped out before it was completed. On 30 March, it was reported that Ibbotson suffered from colour blindness, which meant that he was disqualified from holding a night flying rating on his pilot's licence.
After confirming on 4 February that the wreckage of the aircraft had been successfully located, the AAIB stated that it would publish an interim report on their findings within two weeks. A Special Bulletin was issued on 25 February 2019.
- The AAIB screenshot of the wreckage shows that the location is UTM 30U 520812.80 5518513.32. This corresponds to 49°49'07.3"N 2°42'38.4"W.
- "Emiliano Sala: Cardiff City FC player on missing plane". BBC News. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
- "Emiliano Sala: Cardiff City sign Nantes striker for undisclosed club record fee". BBC Sport. 19 January 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
- @GuernseyPolice (23 January 2019). "16.55 update. Harbour Master Captain David Barker says: "I can confirm the name of the pilot is David Ibbotson."" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "AAIB Bulletin S1/2019 SPECIAL" (PDF). assets.publishing.service.gov.uk. 25 February 2019. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
- "Seat Cushions Believed to Be From Plane Carrying Emiliano Sala Are Found". New York Times. 30 January 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- "Emiliano Sala missing plane: What we now know and the unanswered questions". Wales Online. 27 January 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- Morris, Steven (24 January 2019). "Search for Sala: meet the volunteers who scoured the seas". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
- Burrows, Ben (23 January 2019). "Emiliano Sala left Whatsapp voice message saying plane 'looked like it was falling apart', claim reports". The Independent.
- "The exact plane Emiliano Sala was flying on when it crashed into the English Channel". Wales Online. 4 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
- Roan, Dan (26 January 2019). "Emiliano Sala: Agent who booked Cardiff City striker's flight reveals text messages". BBC News. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- "Disparition d'Emiliano Sala. Dave Henderson : « Je ne suis pas venu à Nantes depuis un an »". Ouest-France (in French). 29 January 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
- "Disparition de Sala. Le plan de vol qui démontre que les McKay n'ont pas tout dit". Ouest-France (in French). 10 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
- "FAA Registry – Aircraft – N-Number Inquiry". registry.faa.gov. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- "AAIB investigation into the loss of aircraft N264DB". Air Accidents Investigtion Branch. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- "N-Number Inquiry Results". Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- Morris, Steven; Parveen, Nazia (24 January 2019). "Emiliano Sala's sister begs rescuers to restart search for missing footballer". The Guardian.
- "Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala was on missing plane". Sky News. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
- "13.15 update. – Guernsey Police". Facebook. Guernsey Police. 22 January 2019. Archived from the original on 22 January 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
- "Guernsey Police Update". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
- @GuernseyPolice (23 January 2019). "1/2 23rd January 7.30am update. We have resumed searching. Two planes are taking off & will search a targeted area we believe has the highest likelihood of finding anything, based on review of the tides and weather since it went missing" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @GuernseyPolice (23 January 2019). "11.30am update There are currently three planes and one helicopter in the air. We are also reviewing satellite imagery and mobile phone data to see if they can be of any assistance in the search. So far today nothing spotted can be attributed to the missing plane" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Emiliano Sala: 'No hope' for missing Cardiff City player". BBC News. 23 January 2019.
- Harris, Chris. "Brexit warning; Sala plane search; and EU golden visa warning | Europe briefing". Euronews.com. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- "Emiliano Sala: Search for footballer and pilot called off". BBC Wales. 24 January 2019. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
- Morris, Steven (28 January 2019). "Emiliano Sala's family hire submarine to hunt for missing plane". Retrieved 13 February 2019 – via www.theguardian.com.
- Press Association (27 January 2019). "Search for Emiliano Sala resumes after crowdfunding effort". The Guardian.
- Morris, Steven (28 January 2019). "Emiliano Sala's family hire submarine to hunt for missing plane". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
- "Update 3: AAIB investigation into the loss of aircraft N264DB". Air Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
- Morris, Steven (30 January 2019). "Emiliano Sala: UK military to hunt for missing plane". theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
- "Seat cushions from missing Sala plane found". Times of Malta. 30 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
- Sansom, Dan (1 February 2019). "Private search for Emiliano Sala plane starts Sunday". Sky Sports.
- "Sala plane underwater search begins". BBC News. 3 February 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- Parmenter, Tom (3 February 2019). "Search zone for missing footballer Emiliano Sala narrowed". Sky News. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- McKenzie, Sheena (3 February 2019). "Privately funded search for missing plane of footballer Emiliano Sala begins". CNN. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- Gillespie, Tom (3 February 2019). "Emiliano Sala: Missing Premier League footballer's plane found". Sky News.
- Irishmirror.ie (5 February 2019). "Emiliano Sala's friend speaks in emotional TV interview about missing player". irishmirror. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
- Buck, Kate. "Plane wreckage found in search for missing footballer Emiliano Sala". Metro. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- Magra, Iliana (3 February 2019). "Video Shows Undersea Wreck of Plane that Carried Soccer Star Emiliano Sala". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
- Morris, Steven; Weaver, Matthew (4 February 2019). "Emiliano Sala search: investigators spot body in plane wreckage". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
- "'One occupant visible' in Emiliano Sala plane wreckage – investigators". Sky News. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
- "Emiliano Sala search team recover body from plane wreckage". BBC News. 7 February 2019.
- Mercer, David; Taylor, Rebecca (7 February 2019). "Emiliano Sala search: Body recovered lands in Dorset". Sky News. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
- "Emiliano Sala: Body identified as footballer". BBC. 7 February 2019.
- Doel, Jon; Booth, Dominic (11 February 2019). "Live updates as inquest into Emiliano Sala's death adjourned". walesonline. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- Doel, Jon; Sands, Katie (7 February 2019). "Live updates as body recovered from Emiliano Sala plane wreckage set to be identified". WalesOnline.
- "Footballer gives £27,000 to pilot search". 10 February 2019. Retrieved 10 February 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Making a stride to bring David Ibbotson home". 23 February 2019. Retrieved 25 February 2019 – via www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk.
- Bonnie Christian (19 February 2019). "Emiliano Sala latest: New search for pilot David Ibbotson could begin next week, says family | London Evening Standard". Evening Standard. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
- "Emiliano Sala plane crash: Pilot search finds 'no sign' - BBC News". Bbc.com. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
- "Emiliano Sala plane crash: Pilot's licence scrutiny". BBC News. 25 February 2019. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
- "Emiliano Sala: Argentina president backs new search for footballer". BBC News. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
- "Emiliano Sala: Who owned the plane the Cardiff player died in?". BBC News. 9 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
- de Menezes, Jack (24 January 2019). "Emiliano Sala: Pilot missing admitted he was a 'bit rusty' in days before flight with Cardiff striker disappeared". The Independent. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
- "Emiliano Sala death: Pilot 'dropped out of commercial training'". BBC News. 2 March 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
- Johnson, Jenny; Thomas, Kayley. "Sala pilot David Ibbotson 'not qualified to fly at night'". BBC Wales News Focus. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
- "Shipwreck hunter urges UK to urgently recover Sala's plane". New Straits Times. AFP. 5 February 2019.
- "Emiliano Sala: Arrests after 'body photo' posted on Twitter". BBC News. 29 April 2019. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
- AAIB Special Bulletin S1/2019 on Piper PA-46-310P Malibu, N264DB at www.gov.uk
- Emiliano Sala plane crash: The story behind the transfer flights BBC News, 19 March 2019