Emiliano Sala: Disappearance & Plane Crash Investigation

blessmycottonsocks

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#1
The disappearance of the Piper Malibu carrying footballer Emiliano Sala yesterday does seem very strange.
Winds were very light at 15 to 20 mph with just a light drizzle, when the aircraft, previously flying at 2,300ft, disappeared from radar somewhere North of Alderney. No distress message was sent and the aircraft is presumed to have ditched in the English Channel - one of the busiest waterways on Earth, but no sign of any wreckage or even an oilslick has yet been spotted.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/emiliano-salas-plane-cardiff-city-2454694
 
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blessmycottonsocks

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#2
The disappearance of the Piper Malibu carrying footballer Emiliano Sala yesterday does seem very strange.
Winds were very light at 15 to 20 mph with just a light drizzle, when the aircraft, previously flying at 2,300ft, disappeared from radar somewhere North of Alderney. No distress message was sent and the aircraft is presumed to have ditched in the English Channel - one of the busiest waterways on Earth, but no sign of any wreckage or even an oilslick has been spotted.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/emiliano-salas-plane-cardiff-city-2454694
In a series of incredibly poignant WhatsApp messages, Sala posted his concern at the state of the aircraft ("falling to pieces") and told his friends that, if they didn't hear from him in the next hour and a half - the scheduled flight time, then they'd better send a search party.

https://www.news.com.au/sport/footb...s/news-story/78fac3dfb008f821b20c4d98e0567b85
 

Ermintruder

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#3
May I say how sad this all is.

And also how exceedingly-ironic that a professional sportsman, whose services have been procured for £27M GBP /$35M USD less than a week ago, disappears without confirmed trace in what sounds like a less-than airworthy light aircraft.

Personal tragedies aside, if this were the storyline of a mystery novel, it'd sound most-implausible.
 

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#4
In a series of incredibly poignant WhatsApp messages, Sala posted his concern at the state of the aircraft ("falling to pieces") and told his friends that, if they didn't hear from him in the next hour and a half - the scheduled flight time, then they'd better send a search party.

https://www.news.com.au/sport/footb...s/news-story/78fac3dfb008f821b20c4d98e0567b85
That article describes the plane as a jet. It's a prop plane.
The slower speed should have meant that the pilot could have brought the plane down onto the sea and they could have bailed out. That's looking unlikely now.
 

INT21

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#5
..one of the busiest waterways on Earth, but no sign of any wreckage or even an oilslick has yet been spotted. ..

Yes, this does seem strange. One would think that one of the many ships in the area would have seen it. And the Channel isn't very wide. Also there are aircraft crossing every few minutes.

All seems very 'unlikely'.

We will have to wait and see.

..disappears without confirmed trace in what sounds like a less-than airworthy light aircraft ..

What proof is there that the plane was dodgy ? I assume that one of the first things done was to check the documentation.

INT21.
 

Ermintruder

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#6
What proof is there that the plane was dodgy ?
He is heard making a phonecall prior to the aircraft apparently crashing, saying that the aircraft was "falling apart".

Reports also indicate that he'd said via social media that the aircraft looked extremely-rough, and that if he was late in arriving, his new team-mates should "send-out a search party". Yes.

This is so obviously a conspiracy or a complete fiction that it must all be real. Or not.
 

INT21

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#7
Ermintruder.

Too someone who may to be used to light aircraft any small plane bouncing along in a bit of turbulence may give the impression it was falling apart. I used to work on them.

But there appears to have been no Mayday or any other request for assistance.

Short of a complete catastrophic destruction, why not ?

Also I suspect the pilot was pretty keen to arrive safely at the other side. And if it seemed unlikely to happen he would have surely turned back.

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#8
That article describes the plane as a jet. It's a prop plane.
The slower speed should have meant that the pilot could have brought the plane down onto the sea and they could have bailed out. That's looking unlikely now.
I wonder if that might be because it's the JetPROP variant (I don't know) which has a turboprop engine, ie. a jet engine with a propellor on the front, to put it simply. Bad, lazy or inattentive journalists are forever getting this kind of detail mixed up. I know sod all about the Malibu, but the ones at the airfield where I work are mostly turbos and are pretty nippy by all accounts.
 
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#9
[...] I suspect the pilot was pretty keen to arrive safely at the other side. And if it seemed unlikely to happen he would have surely turned back.

INT21.
You'd think so, but there's a well-known psychological phenomena known as 'get-home-itis'. This growing tendency to press on - sometimes amplified by external pressures (irresponsible persuasion from bosses with time and financial concerns) - has led to not a few tragedies ... and many lucky escapes.
 

hunck

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#10
According to the news tonight it was a Piper single prop engine plane, not a jet. He declined the club's offer of a commercial flight & someone in his team chartered it.
 
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#11
Certainly - there is no jet-powered Malibu ... but it might have been a turboprop - which has a prop but is very different to an internal combustion powered aircraft and arguably more suitable for sea crossings. I was suggesting that some journalists aren't all that exacting in their journalism. Also I promise you I've met people who think 'jet' is just a synonym for 'aeroplane'!
 

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#12
Certainly - there is no jet-powered Malibu ... but it might have been a turboprop - which has a prop but is very different to an internal combustion powered aircraft and arguably more suitable for sea crossings. ...
If the Salas Malibu was a turboprop it was the result of an aftermarket conversion.
 
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#13
Ah, OK, but this would be quite legal and approved by the relevant authorities, and Piper.

There's a sort of myth (even irresponsibly promulgated by the BBC in their 'Skies Above Britain' series) that light aircraft are not subject to rigorous maintenance schedules and airworthiness checks - which simply isn't the case. I find it hard to believe the plane was 'falling apart', though that's an impression people only used to airline travel sometimes get in smaller aircraft. However engine failures do happen.

It appears the aircraft in question had the conventional flat-six Continental engine (carbs, cylinders, pistons, spark plugs, etc.) making the sloppiness of the 'journalist' who described it as a jet even more inexcusable.

It's long sea crossing to or from the Channel Islands (up to about 50 miles) but I've done it in single-engine aircraft and so have many people I know, with the right safety equipment ... not in this kind of weather though. I believe they had a raft onboard and probably life jackets. I'd hope they had flares and locator beacons too, but sorting all this out in an emergency can be nearly impossible.
 
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EnolaGaia

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#14
Just for the record ... The Piper series that once included the now-defunct Malibu model / label does offer a turboprop version, but it's certainly not called a 'Malibu'.
 

RaM

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#15
If your used to flying in Boeing's or Airbus then I can understand how a light aircraft
would be a bit off putting, and some early piston Malibu's had engine's fail, it was
only at 2000 odd ft, you dont have a lot of time if the engine fails at that height to do
a lot especially over the sea on a dark night, a lot of Malibu's were converted to turbo
prop but going off the pics I have seen that doesn't look like one.
 

maximus otter

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#16
..one of the busiest waterways on Earth, but no sign of any wreckage or even an oilslick has yet been spotted. ..

Yes, this does seem strange. One would think that one of the many ships in the area would have seen it.
It’s not really strange. I have seen a WW2 film of a US Navy fighter (Hellcat?) ditching beside an aircraft carrier. From first contact to the aircraft vanishing beneath the waves was, IIRC, 30 seconds.

I have searched for said footage, but my Google fu is weak this morning.

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#18
If your used to flying in Boeing's or Airbus then I can understand how a light aircraft
would be a bit off putting, and some early piston Malibu's had engine's fail, it was
only at 2000 odd ft, you dont have a lot of time if the engine fails at that height to do
a lot especially over the sea on a dark night, a lot of Malibu's were converted to turbo
prop but going off the pics I have seen that doesn't look like one.
Yes, the pilot wouldn't have been able to extend the glide very far from that height however well he knew the aircraft. Ibbotson initially requested a descent from 5,000ft to 2,300ft which would suggest he had noticed severe airframe icing - and which would account for the sense of the plane falling apart as it would be aerodynamically knackered ... but in that weather this may not have helped. Engine failure's another possibility, but in the event of a rough deadstick causing the plane to break up in the sea or the airframe failure in mid-air scenarios surely there would be wreckage.

Over land an engine failure or any inability to remain airborne would usually mean a 'pan-pan' call and an emergency landing somewhere flat. Over the sea at night this would be be a full-blown 'Mayday' and yet no transmission was made. Perhaps the pilot was somehow incapacitated by a sudden illness or too overwhelmed by a very challenging situation to get around to raising the alarm. All these are possibilities and it's a characteristic of air accidents that often several things go wrong at once or in quick succession, hence the difficulty in investigating them and piecing together the sequence of events.

Another question is whether they had locator beacon(s) onboard. Ideally they would have the water-activated type whose signal should be detectable, as in the area where they fell off radar the water is *only* about 100m or 300ft deep (deep for the channel). And there'd be one on the liferaft. These devices are now mandatory on all flights in CAA registered aircraft but as the Piper was registered with the (American) FAA this rule may not apply - I'm not sure so asked my boss and he's not sure either. I'm sure a quick internet search would provide the answer.

There's even a theory, which seems to have come form Guernsey Police, that they ditched then managed to get in the raft but fell victim to heavy seas, or were picked up by a ship. In either case no raft has been found, although it might be hundreds of miles away be now - which brings up the locator beacon question again.

Did Sala know the pilot and get talked into flying with him? It's odd that he chose this course of action when apparently the club had offered to book a commercial flight for him, being a colleague and friend and an expensive asset. I'm not suggesting a conspiracy, but it is definitely odd.

Edit: Good 2015 video here featuring experienced ferry pilot Dave Henderson and N264DB. Interestingly he was in Nantes on the fateful evening and was supposed to fly the accident aircraft - which he knows very well - back to Cardiff, and had even filed a flight plan until there was a change of plan.​
 

INT21

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#19
Yes, very odd.

He makes a call to Air Traffic requesting a change of altitude. Then nothing. Just disappears. No Mayday.

But did he just disappear from the computerised tracking system. which is based on a signal from the plane. Or did the also vanish from primary radar.

Doesn't this all sound familiar ?

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#20
Hmm, I dunno ... what incident are you referring to, please?

The plane would've disappeared from secondary surveillance radar if the transponder was turned off, or the aircraft sank, or the electrical system was rendered inoperative by seawater despite the Malibu remaining afloat for a while...

It's a mystery, and I feel a bit guilty for being fascinated by it when obviously the important thing is that two men have probably lost their lives.
 

INT21

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#21
..
Hmm, I dunno ... what incident are you referring to, please?...

Malaysian Air flight 370.

Made a routine hand-over call. then apparently turned of the transponder and 'disappeared'.

Also strange that this footballer should seek out a lift when he could have flown commercially or even used an air taxi service. One assumes he had the money.

INT21
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#22
Right, yes, I see what you're getting at!

I expect wilder theories will emerge - suicidal pilot (unlikely), UFO abduction, smuggling drugs, Sala was a spy, crew of foreign rescue vessel planning ransom demands, or just 'doing a Reggie' ...
 

INT21

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#23
Or then it will probably turn out to be a simple accident.

Turbo prop engines are generally more reliable than piston engines; less moving parts. And even Injection piston engines don't suffer from carburetor icing. One thinks the pilot would have reported ice build up (if that was becoming a problem) when he requested permission to descend to a lower altitude.

INT21.
 

hunck

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#24
Pieces of seat cushion washed up on Normandy beach

Two pieces of seat cushion believed to be from the [Emiliano Sala] plane that went missing nine days ago were found on the Normandy coast, about 20 miles from the last known position of the aircraft.

It has also emerged that the UK aviation investigators have identified a “priority search area” of about four square nautical miles where they believe the wreckage of the plane may lie and have commissioned a Ministry of Defence salvage and marine operations team to try to locate it. The start of this operation is being delayed by poor weather.
 

EnolaGaia

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#25
It appears the wreckage of Sala's plane has been located ...
Man leading search for Sala’s plane says wreckage found

The wreckage of the plane carrying soccer player Emiliano Sala was located on Sunday, two weeks after it disappeared from radar over the English Channel, according to the marine scientist leading a privately funded search for the Argentine’s family.

David Mearns, an American-born shipwreck-hunting specialist, made the announcement on Twitter after returning to the island of Guernsey from the search and police informed the families of the two men on board. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.apnews.com/31d89d96eb7648559b57c84036563e9a
 

blessmycottonsocks

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#26
Watched the coverage of Sala's funeral on the late news last night.
A couple of family members openly expressed their opinion that foul play was involved somewhere in causing the crash - why was a mechanically dodgy aircraft that Sala remarked on pressed into service, why was the official search called off so soon, why did the originally scheduled pilot drop out? etc.
 

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#27
Watched the coverage of Sala's funeral on the late news last night.
A couple of family members openly expressed their opinion that foul play was involved somewhere in causing the crash - why was a mechanically dodgy aircraft that Sala remarked on pressed into service, why was the official search called off so soon, why did the originally scheduled pilot drop out? etc.
Turn that on its head, and one could ask why would someone do all that to elaborately murder Sala and his pilot?
I can think of no reason whatsoever.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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#28
Turn that on its head, and one could ask why would someone do all that to elaborately murder Sala and his pilot?
I can think of no reason whatsoever.
Me neither, but that's exactly how conspiracies, no matter how irrational, are born.
I guess the family, in their grief, need to make some sort of sense out of a senseless tragedy.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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#29
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