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Investigators to publish final report into Emiliano Sala plane crash

The Argentinian striker was flying from Nantes in France to his new club, Cardiff City, when the Piper Malibu aircraft plunged into the Channel.

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Part of the wreckage of the plane which crashed during a flight with footballer Emiliano Sala on board (AAIB/PA)

Part of the wreckage of the plane which crashed during a flight with footballer Emiliano Sala on board (AAIB/PA)

Part of the wreckage of the plane which crashed during a flight with footballer Emiliano Sala on board (AAIB/PA)

Investigators will publish their final report into the plane crash that killed footballer Emiliano Sala on Friday.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) will release the findings of its 14-month inquiry at 2pm.

Argentinian striker Sala, 28, was flying from Nantes in France to Cardiff after signing for Cardiff City, when the Piper Malibu aircraft plunged into the Channel on January 21 2019.

Sala’s body was recovered but pilot David Ibbotson has not been found.

Speaking to ITV Mr Ibbotson’s widow, Nora, said she hoped the report would give “an understanding of what happened that weekend”.

“It goes over in your mind – what if this, what if that,” she said. “I think the media forgets we don’t have David back.”

A football programme with an image of Emiliano Sala on the cover (Mark Kerton/PA)
A football programme with an image of Emiliano Sala on the cover (Mark Kerton/PA)

An interim report published by the AAIB shortly after the accident stated that Mr Ibbotson, 59, was not licensed to conduct commercial flights.

The aircraft remains underwater off the coast of Guernsey after an attempt to recover it was hampered by bad weather.

Relatives of Sala and Mr Ibbotson have called for the wreckage to be salvaged to help find out what happened.

The AAIB said it has not made another retrieval attempt due to the high costs involved, the information already collected and the risk the wreckage would “not yield definitive evidence”.

Cardiff City continues to be locked in a legal dispute with Nantes over payment of the footballer’s £15 million transfer fee.

The Welsh club argue they were not liable for the full amount because Sala was not officially their player when he died.

Cardiff City recently urged the French authorities to launch an official investigation into Sala’s death.

Dorset Police announced on Wednesday that no further action will be taken against a 64-year-old man from North Yorkshire arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in relation to the crash.

Former football agent Willie McKay has said he paid for the fatal flight but did not choose the pilot or the plane.

He has explained he was helping his son Mark, who was acting for Nantes, to complete the transfer.

Two people were jailed in September last year for illegally accessing mortuary security camera images of Sala’s body.

CCTV company director Sherry Bray, 49, and her employee Christopher Ashford, 62, watched footage of the post-mortem examination and took screenshots of the images.

PA