EMILIANO SALA: PROBE BEGINS INTO MISSING FOOTBALLER’S FLIGHT

EMILIANO SALA: PROBE BEGINS INTO MISSING FOOTBALLER’S FLIGHT

Even as the Guernsey Police on Thursday announced the end of the rescue operation to find Emiliano Sala, an investigation into the missing will look at “all operational aspects” including licensing and flight plans.

The Police had on Thursday explained that unless there was a significant development, there would be no further update on the missing plane and the two occupants.

According to a message posted by the Harbour Master, Captain David Barker, the search team had exhausted all necessary efforts, combing a combined area of 1,700 square miles of areas the plane could have fallen to.

The Piper PA-46 Malibu disappeared on Monday with Cardiff City’s new signing and pilot Dave Ibbotson on board.

A search near Guernsey was called off on Thursday afternoon despite pleas from Sala’s sister, Romina Sala.

She  said she feels her brother is still alive and pleaded with rescuers not to give up hope.

According to a BBC report, the Air Accident Investigation Branch said it had launched a probe.

Ibbotson, 59, of Crowle, Lincolnshire, held a private pilot’s licence and passed a medical exam as recently as November, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

The Civil Aviation Authority said the aircraft was registered in the US, so fell under its regulations.

US law states private pilots cannot make a profit by carrying passengers.

There were “alarm bells all around” the incident, aviation consultant Alastair Rosenchein told BBC Radio Wales’ Good Morning Wales programme.

He said: “The one issue is whether a single-engine air craft should be flying at night, in winter, over water and with passengers.

“This is the real issue – it is a really bad combination.”

Mr Rosenchein explained that if the engine failed, the pilot would need to land – and at night he would not have visual cues to rely on.

He said despite only 1,400 of the planes being built there was a “quite significant” number of deaths and injuries from flights involving them.

It has also been confirmed that “a moment of silent reflection” for the player and pilot will take place at the next round of Premier League fixtures on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Argentine striker Sala, 28, signed for Cardiff from Nantes last weekend and was travelling between the cities on Monday night.

At 19:15 GMT, Mr Ibbotson made a request to descend, before losing contact with Jersey air traffic control.

An extensive search took place, but Guernsey’s harbour master explained a “difficult” decision was made to call it off, saying the chances of survival were “extremely remote”.

Barker acknowledged the family were “not content” with the decision to stop actively searching but said he was “absolutely confident” no more could have been done.

He insisted UK coastguard protocols were followed and said he hoped the families of the missing pair found some comfort in the incident remaining open, despite searches ceasing.

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