Seats on Beach Likely From Soccer Star's Missing Plane

Seabed search will target 4-mile area
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2019 11:42 AM CST
Seats on Beach Likely From Soccer Star's Missing Plane
Flowers and tributes are placed near a giant picture of Emiliano Sala outside the FC Nantes training camp on Jan. 24, 2019.   (AP Photo)

Two seat cushions were found Monday on a beach in northwest France, and aviation authorities believe they hail from the single-engine aircraft thought to have crashed a week ago while carrying Argentine soccer star Emiliano Sala over the English Channel. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch announced Wednesday the cushions washed up near Surtainville about 40 miles from where the Piper PA-46 Malibu vanished. The Telegraph reports the AAIB has outlined a four-mile priority search area "based on a detailed assessment of the flight path and last known radar position." Weather conditions mean the seabed search likely won't begin until the end of the weekend. It's expected to take up to three days.

The AAIB plans to employ side-scan sonar equipment in its search, along with a remotely operated vehicle if any wreckage is found. The official search for Sala and pilot David Ibbotson was called off Thursday, four days after the plane departed Nantes, France, for Cardiff, Wales, where Sala was to join Premier League side Cardiff City in a $19.3 million transfer from FC Nantes. The father of Nantes' acting agent Mark McKay arranged for the flight for Sala but did not select the plane or pilot, per the Evening Standard. "What's gone on this week is unprecedented, really. I can't explain really how it's been," Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock said Tuesday after the team's emotional 2-1 loss to Arsenal, per CNN. It should've been Sala's first game with the team. (More plane crash stories.)

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