Cushions found in Emiliano Sala search
French Air Accident investigators have found what could be remains of the plane carrying the missing Cardiff City footballer
The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch have said that their French counterparts have found part of a seat cushion from a plane and believe it is "likely" it is from the aircraft that was carrying Emiliano Sala, who disappeared en route from Nantes to join up with his new club Cardiff City on Monday 21 January. This is the second cushion found in the area according to the investigators. The cushion was found on a beach near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula.
The plane carrying Emiliano Sala disappeared from radar screens 20 kilometres north of the Island of Guernsey. The police ended the official search for the player on 24 January, but asked people to remain vigilent for possible wreckage.
Sala's family raised €300,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to carry out a private search for the missing footballer. The AAIB said they were "liaising closely" with those involved in the private search "to maximise the chance of locating any wreckage and ensure a safe search operation".
Full Statement from the UK's AAIB
Since we opened our safety investigation on Tuesday 23 January, we have been gathering evidence such as flight, aircraft and personnel records, and have been analysing radar data and air traffic tapes. We have been working closely with other international authorities and have kept the families of those involved updated on our progress.
On the morning of Monday 28 January, we were advised by the Bureau d’Enquêtes & d’Analyses (BEA), 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.
From the moment we were notified of the missing aircraft, we have been looking at the feasibility of conducting an underwater seabed search for aircraft wreckage. Based on a detailed assessment of the flight path and last known radar position, we have now identified a priority search area of approximately four square nautical miles. Through the Ministry of Defence’s Salvage and Marine Operations (SALMO) Project Team, we have commissioned a specialist survey vessel to carry out an underwater survey of the seabed to try to locate and identify possible aircraft wreckage.
Due to the weather and sea conditions, 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 (ROV) will be used to visually examine the wreckage.
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.
Our remit is to undertake safety investigations to establish the cause of accidents. We do not apportion blame or liability.