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AAIB: "No plans to recover wreckage"


Friday 16 August 2019

AAIB: "No plans to recover wreckage"

The Air Accident Investigation Branch has confirmed it won't be attempting to recover the plane which crashed near Guernsey with pilot David Ibbotson and footballer Emiliano Sala on board.

In a statement released alongside an interim Special Report into the enquiry yesterday, the AAIB said that recovering the wreckage of the plane will "not add significantly to the investigation" into the death of footballer Mr Sala, and the disappearance of Mr Ibbotson.

Mr Ibbotson hasn't been seen since the Piper Malibu he was flying crashed into the Channel in January.

The Argentine striker's body was discovered inside the stricken plane when it was found on the sea bed but Mr Ibbotson's family have not yet had any closure as the search for their husband and father found no clues to his whereabouts.


Pictured: David Ibbotson and Emiliano Sala were flying from Nantes in France to Cardiff in Wales, as part of Mr Sala's football transfer, when the plane ditched into the Channel.

Yesterday, the AAIB released an interim report into the investigation into the accident, revealing that a post-mortem examination test result on Mr Sala's body had found high levels of Carbon Monoxide. As it is likely Mr Ibbotson was also exposed to CO that is now considered the likely cause of the accident. 

The report says, 'it is clear from the symptoms that exposure to CO can reduce or inhibit a pilot’s ability to fly an aircraft depending on the level of that exposure'.

Acknowledging the ongoing calls to recover the wreckage of the Piper Malibu, the AAIB released another statement "in response to call to recover aircraft wreckage N264DB."

It said both the Sala and Ibbotson families have been kept up to date on the progress of the investigation and the reasons surrounding the decision to so far not recover the plane. 

While it was a privately funded search for Mr Sala which discovered his body inside the wreckage, a similar search for Mr Ibbotson wasn't as successful.


Pictured: Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning documented in yesterday's AAIB report.

The AAIB had worked alongside 'wreck hunter' David Mearns to find the plane earlier this year and said that had provided 'substantial' evidence to help the ongoing enquiry.

“In February our underwater search operation successfully located the wreckage, recovered the passenger’s body and captured substantial video evidence from the scene using a remotely operated vehicle.  It was not possible at the time to recover the wreckage.  

"We have carefully considered the feasibility and merits of returning to attempt to recover the wreckage.  In this case, we consider that it will not add significantly to the investigation and we will identify the correct safety issues through other means. 

"In making our decision, we took into account the high cost of underwater recovery, the evidence we collected in February and the risk that, after a violent impact with the sea, the wreckage would not yield definitive evidence.”

The investigation into the accident is ongoing and is unlikely to be concluded this year.

The AAIB has said a final report will be issued once that happens.

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