‘No sign’ of Sala plane crash pilot’s body after underwater search

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Divers searching for the pilot who was flying the plane carrying footballer Emiliano Sala have found “no sign” of his body.

David Ibbotson remains missing after the Piper Malibu plane he was piloting from Nantes in France to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel on January 21.

Sala’s body was recovered on February 6 but Mr Ibbotson, 59, of Crowle, Lincolnshire, has not been located.

Emiliano Sala
Emiliano Sala (Mark Kerton/PA)

“Today we also organised a helicopter from the UK with two pilots and two trained observers to fly over the Channel Islands to conduct an aerial search of the CI and French coastlines that are inaccessible.

“Sadly that search for David Ibbotson’s body was also negative.”

Mr Ibbotson’s family set up an online fundraising campaign to restart the search for his body, which has reached nearly £250,000.

The aircraft remains underwater off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel as an attempt to recover it was hampered by bad weather.

An investigation will focus on the validity of the pilot’s licence.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) named “regulatory requirements” as one of four areas in which it will carry out further work before publishing its final report.

Its interim report noted that the type of licence held by Mr Ibbotson meant he could only fly passengers in the European Union on a cost-sharing basis, rather than for commercial flights.

Pilots with his licence “must have a bona fide purpose for making the flight”, according to the AAIB.

Argentinian footballer Sala signed for Cardiff City from French club Nantes for £15 million on January 18.

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