The Air Accident Investigation Branch has said it is unlikely to return to the site of the stricken plane which crashed into the Channel last month, carrying Pilot David Ibbotson and footballer Emiliano Sala.
While Mr Sala's body has been recovered from the wreck of the Piper Malibu, which is lying on the sea bed north west of Alderney, there has been no trace found yet of Mr Ibbotson.
His family have raised almost £200,000 to try and fund a private search to 'bring him home', with backing from numerous members of the public and footballers including Kylian Mbappé and Gary Lineker, who donated £27,000 and £1,000 respectively.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain yesterday, Mr Ibbotson's daughter Danielle said her father would not give up looking for her if she was missing, so she would not give up on him.
“If you’ve got hope then you shouldn’t give up,” she said. “He wouldn’t stop searching for me.”
She added: “We still hope and pray and hope everyone keeps my dad in their prayers.”
The Ibbotson family didn't say who they want to continue searching for their missing husband and father, but the Sala family had recruited the help of 'shipwreck hunter' David Mearns who, alongside the AAIB, found the plane within hours of deploying specialist equipment.
He is believed to have been in contact with the Ibbotson family but nothing has been said publicly about Mr Mearns being involved in any further searches as yet.
Pictured: David Mearns with Emiliano Sala's friend, sister and mother, at Guernsey Airport.
The official investigation into the cause of the accident, which happened during the evening of Monday 21 January, as the pair flew from Nantes to Cardiff, is being carried out by the AAIB.
There have been calls for the AAIB to resume its search, now it's been confirmed the only body recovered from the wreck was that of the footballer, who had just signed a £15million contract to play for the Bluebirds in the English Premier League, but that is not going to happen.
An AAIB spokesperson told Express that there was no choice but to call the search off once the plane wreck was found, because of the increasingly poor weather conditions affecting the Channel at the time.
"We did everything we possibly could last week, and the operation was a success in that we located the wreckage, surveyed it in detail and recovered the one body that was found at the site," the spokesperson said. "Our attempts to recover wreckage had to be stopped when the deteriorating sea conditions made it unsafe to continue; and with the prospect of several days of gales, we had no option but to suspend the operation."
The AAIB said the enquiry continues though.
The AAIB spokesperson said; "The team is reviewing and analysing the considerable amount of video evidence gathered from the site to determine whether there is any need to return to the site to gather further evidence for the investigation.”
Pictured: Part of the plane was found at the bottom of the Channel and Emiliano Sala's body was still on board it.
While Mr Ibbotson is still considered a missing person, the formal enquiries into Mr Sala's death are continuing.
A post mortem carried out on by Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue has given his cause of death as “1a) head and trunk injuries”.
The hearing was held at Bournemouth Town Hall, without any members of Mr Sala’s family there. The inquest was then adjourned until November.
Senior Coroner’s Officer Ian Parry confirmed the footballer had been pronounced dead at Portland Port on February 7 and was formally identified by his fingerprints. His full name was given as Emiliano Raul Sala, while his date and place of birth was given as October 1990 at Esperanza, Santa Fe, Argentina.
“On Monday January 21 a Malibu aircraft left Nantes airport for Cardiff,” Mr Parry said during the hearing.
“The aircraft was carrying two persons, the pilot David Ibbotson and passenger Emiliano Raul Sala.
“Air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft during the flight and an extensive search commenced off waters at Guernsey.
“Subsequently the plane was located on the sea bed in international waters.
“Following a closer examination of the site a body, later identified as Mr Sala, was found and recovered.
“To date the pilot, Mr Ibbotson, has not been found.
“Police, Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the Civil Aviation Authority are continuing with their inquiries.”
Pictured: David Ibbotson.
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