UK’s AAIB finds pieces of aircraft at sea belonging to the missing Piper Malibu

The search for missing Piper Malibu N264DB has reopened as professionals from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) continue working alongside other international initiatives to locate the aircraft.

With more than one search underway, it has been confirmed that pieces of an aircraft were discovered in the area where the plane disappeared from radars. The AAIB believe the debris belongs to the Piper Malibu plane that went missing with footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson onboard.

A statement from AAIB, said: “On the morning of Monday 28 January, we were advised by the Bureau d’Enquêtes and d’Analyses (BEA)—the French safety investigation authority—that part of a seat cushion had been found on a beach near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula. A second cushion was found in the same area later that day. From a preliminary examination we have concluded that it is likely that the cushions are from the missing aircraft.”

David Mearns, from Blue Water Discoveries, is a chartered marine scientist, researcher and expedition leader of deep ocean projects. He is one of the world’s most experienced and successful deep-sea shipwreck hunters, who has located 24 major shipwrecks with an overall success rate of 89 percent.

According to media sources, Mr Mearns said they saw the aircraft registration number and were surprised to discover most of the plane was still there. They were expecting to find a debris field but most of the aircraft is still there.

Through the Ministry of Defence’s Salvage and Marine Operations (SALMO) Project Team, AAIB commissioned a specialist vessel to carry out an underwater survey of the seabed in efforts to locate and identify possible aircraft wreckage.

The AAIB will release an statement this afternoon (February 4), detailing any updates on the search for missing aircraft and the two passengers who were on board.

Photo credit: Jamie Brown, Welshpool Mid Wales Airport