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Missing plane containing footballer is not owned by Bungay company, despite reports

PUBLISHED: 14:23 23 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:16 23 January 2019

Emiliano Sala was aboard a small passenger plane that went missing off the coast of the island of Guernsey. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

Emiliano Sala was aboard a small passenger plane that went missing off the coast of the island of Guernsey. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A missing plane containing a Premier League striker is not owned by a Bungay company - despite reports in the national media.

Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala and a pilot were onboard a plane which lost contact with radars as it travelled off Alderney in the Channel Islands on Monday, January 21.

The plane, a single turbine engine aircraft called a PA-46 Malibu, is manufactured in Florida and as such must be registered to an American citizen or American citizen-owned corporation.

It is registered to Southern Aircraft Consultancy, which is based at Earsham Hall, in Bungay, and provides the service for American-built aircraft in the UK.

However the plane is believed to be owned by football agent William McKay.

The firm is the leading professional aircraft registration company in the UK and functions much like the DVLA does for cars.

The search for the missing aircraft has now been changed to a recovery operation and officials will decide later today if they will continue searching for the 28-year-old Argentine footballer and the pilot.

According to the UK’s aviation regulator the light aircraft is unlikely to have been fitted with a flight recorder.

So-called black boxes which record flight data and cockpit audio are mandatory in airliners and business jets, and are a vital tool for crash investigators.

But they are not mandatory for light aircraft such as the US-registered Malibu plane.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said the plane is “unlikely” to have been fitted with a black box.

The weight of the recorders is one of the reasons why they are not normally used by light aircraft manufacturers.

But it is a legal requirement for European aircraft to carry an emergency transmitter to aid search and rescue operations.

The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said it is investigating the loss of the aircraft and is working closely with authorities in the US, France and Argentina.

An AAIB spokesman said: “We will be gathering all the available evidence to conduct a thorough investigation.

“However, if the aircraft is not found it is likely to limit the scope of the investigation.”

An official source advised that media reports naming the pilot are incorrect.

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