AAIB to conduct search for aircraft missing near Alderney

AAIB HQ (Image: AAIB/UK GOV)

The Air Accident Investigations Branch (AAIB) has announced that is to conduct an underwater seabed search for the aircraft that went missing with Cardiff City football player, Emiliano Sala onboard.

In conjunction with the Ministry of Defence’s Salvage and Marine Operations (SALMO) Project Team, an area of four square nautical miles will be searched in an attempt to find the missing plane.

The area has been identified after a detailed assessment of the flight path and last known radar positions.

In a statement today, the AAIB said that they had been notified on Monday the 28th January that a seat cushion had been found on a beach near Surainville on the Cotentin Peninsula. A second cushion was found later that day in the same area.

The AAIB has now concluded that it is likely that the cushions came from the missing aircraft.

The Piper PA-46-310P Malibu Aircraft (N264DB) went missing on Monday 21st January near Alderney in the Channel Islands on a flight between Nantes and Cardiff Airport (CWL/EGFF) with Emiliano Sala and pilot, David Ibbotson onboard. There has been no sign of either person but they are both presumed dead as the survival time in the waters around Alderney is about 6 hours, even for a very fit person.

In a ststement, The AAIB said: “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.”

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About Nick Harding 613 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.