Photographs accompanying a report into the tragic final flight of footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson have shown the "extensive" damage to the plane, whose wreck was "held together" by electrical cables.
The images, which are stills from a video taken during investigation of the wreck, were released by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch today, as they published their interim report into the fatal crash off the coast of Alderney on 21 January.
Sala and Mr Ibbotson had been flying from Nantes Airport to Cardiff, where the Argentine striker had just signed a record £15m deal.
Video: Geraint Herbert, Principal Inspector of Air Accidents, commented on the report's release.
The report showed how their plane lost radio contact at 20:12, around which time Mr Ibbotson asked to descend a second time.
The plane was observed to have made a number of turns, then by 20:16, radar data showed that it suddenly plummeted to a height of 1,600 ft, at an average rate of 7,000ft per minute.
A few seconds later, the final secondary radar return was recorded, showing that it may then have climbed rapidly to 2,300ft.
Pictured: View looking at cabin and break in fuselage.
The wreckage of the doomed Piper Malibu aircraft they had been travelling in was later found around 30 metres from its last recorded position.
Located at a depth of 68metres underwater, the 1984 plane was described as "extensively damaged", having broken into three pieces.
Sala's body was found in the wreck, but Mr Ibbotson's remains undiscovered. However, after a successful crowdfunding effort by Mr Ibbotson's daughter, Danielle, a renewed search for him is due to begin soon.
Pictured: View looking at remains of inner wing.
The report noted: "The main body of the aircraft was in three parts held together by electrical and flying control cables.
"The engine had disconnected from the cockpit area, and the rear section of the fuselage had broken away from the forward section adjacent to the trailing edge of the wing. The outboard section of both wings, tail plane and fin were missing.
"In the days following the accident two seat cushions, an arm rest and possible skin from the fuselage washed up along the coast of the Cotentin Peninsula, France. A seat cushion also washed up in Bonne Nuit Bay on the north coast of Jersey."
Pictured: Footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson, who were travelling on the plane.
Upon the report's release, Geraint Herbert, Principal Inspector of Air Accidents, commented: “Today, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch is publishing a Special Bulletin which contains all the factual information that we have found to date in our investigation into the loss of the Piper Malibu aircraft in the English Channel.
“So far, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch has been gathering evidence. We have been gathering evidence from the wreckage, from video of the wreckage. We have been looking at radar evidence. We’ve been looking at weather reports we have from the area and we’ve been interviewing witnesses.
“The Air Accidents Investigation Branch will now analyse the evidence we have to try and build a picture of what happened between the last radar contact we have with the aircraft and when it came to rest on the seabed, to try and determine why the accident happened.”
AAIB Special Bulletin: loss of light aircraft N264DBhttps://t.co/cpmUtLVCbo— AAIB (@aaibgovuk) February 25, 2019
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