North Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire pilot still missing after footballer’s body recovered

Lincolnshire pilot David Ibbotson remains missing after the body recovered from the channel plane wreckage was formally identified as footballer Emiliano Sala.

As previously reported, a body was found by underwater search teams investigating the wreckage of the Piper Malibu N264D which vanished near the Channel Islands on January 21.

The wreckage of the plane was discovered in the English Channel near to Guernsey on February 3 after a privately-funded sonar search and collaboration between the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) and Blue Water Recoveries Ltd.

The body was taken to Portland before being passed into the care of the Dorset Coroner. The body has since been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as Emiliano Sala.

Sala was on the plane flown by Ibbotson which was taking him from Nantes to his new club Cardiff City. Ibbotson has yet to be found.

The attempts to recover the wreckage were unsuccessful. The overall operation was brought to a close as the weather forecast is poor for the foreseeable future.

The image shows the rear left side of the fuselage including part of the aircraft registration. Photo: AAIB

The Air Accident Investigation Branch previously said the extensive video record captured by the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) is expected to provide valuable evidence for the safety investigation.

A statement from Dorset Police said: “The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday February 7 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala.

“The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.

“HM Coroner will continue to investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police.

“On Monday January 21 2019 a plane carrying both men was flying from Nantes to Cardiff when it lost contact with Air Traffic Control, north of Guernsey.

“Sadly a search and rescue operation was unsuccessful in locating the plane and the two occupants. Subsequently AAIB and privately funded search teams were deployed to the relevant area. Using specialist equipment the teams succeeded in locating and identifying the plane and recovering Mr Sala’s body.”