Investigators are checking whether the pilot who disappeared over the Channel alongside Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala had the correct licence
Guernsey's authorities have called off the search for the Piper PA-46 Malibu plane which began on Monday, having deemed the chances of survival to be "extremely remote".
Romina Sala, the sister of the Argentine forward, has pleaded with rescuers to keep looking for the aircraft, describing the 28-year-old as a "fighter" who is "not going to give up". It has been reported that she is travelling to Guernsey to meet rescue teams.
"Please don't stop the search" - Emiliano Sala's sister Romina wants the search for her missing brother to carry on.— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 25, 2019
For more on the search for Emiliano Sala: https://t.co/wAdRWTOJHg pic.twitter.com/blrm2mVNGl
Sala's former club Nantes FC has also urged for searching to continue:
FC Nantes has learnt that the search for the missing plane was called off.— FC Nantes (@FCNantes) January 24, 2019
This search mustn’t stop, @GuernseyPolice
The club and its supporters strongly ask for the search to find @EmilianoSala1 to go on, for his family and his near relatives. Together for Emi ! #PrayForSala pic.twitter.com/7C1PrMUV7R
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has confirmed it is looking into the licence held by pilot Dave Ibbotson.
He was flying Sala from France to the Welsh capital after the striker signed for the Premier League side from Nantes FC.
Mr Ibbotson, a 59-year-old from Crowle near Scunthorpe has admitted to friends that he was "a bit rusty".
According to Federal Aviation Administration records, Mr Ibbotson held a private licence and had passed a medical exam as recently as November.
The Civil Aviation Authority said the aircraft was registered in the US, where regulations state private pilots cannot make a profit by carrying passengers.
Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman has said that the flight was not organised by the club, with Sala making his own travel arrangements via football agent Mark McKay.
The Argentine striker reportedly voiced fears about the safety of the plane in a WhatsApp audio message he sent to friends while on board.
In the message, a voice is heard saying: "I am here in the plane that seems is about to fall to pieces. I'm scared."
Mr McKay confirmed to Sky Sports News that he had been involved in arranging the flight, but said the plane was "not owned in any way or part by either myself or any member of my family".
The plane left Nantes for Cardiff at 7.15pm on Monday and lost contact with Jersey air traffic control not long after requesting to descend.
The Premier League has announced that there will be a "moment of silent reflection" for Sala and Mr Ibbotson before every match next week, with Cardiff due to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.
The league said it was committed to supporting Cardiff at what it called an "incredibly sad time".
Fellow Argentines Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi, who play for Premier League champions Manchester City, have said they hope they are found alive.
We don't want to give up, we want to hold on to hope. That's why I also wish #NoDejenDeBuscar - don't call off the search. From the start, my thoughts have been with Emiliano, his family and friends #PrayForSala— Sergio Kun Aguero (@aguerosergiokun) January 24, 2019
Hi, I’m Nicolás Otamendi. I’d like to express my sympathies to Emiliano’s family, and urge the police to keep searching for the plane. There’s still hope to find them alive. All my support to his family, and let’s hope they get an answer urgently #prayforemilianosala pic.twitter.com/4k37Zgk3U1— Nicolas Otamendi (@Notamendi30) January 24, 2019
Nantes coach Vahid Halilhodzic was visibly emotional as he paid tribute to Sala in an interview on Thursday, describing his former player as a "real warrior".
He said: "We have to respect the decision of the family who, for the moment, have had no confirmation, so hope still exists. We are still waiting for a surprise. I hope that arrives very soon.
"It is for that reason that we do not want to hold either a tribute to him or a minute's silence."