The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has disclosed that underwater search using specialist vessels uncovered an "object of interest" on the seabed on February 3, 2019.
A remotely operated vehicle surveyed the area and, based on analysis of the video footage, investigators concluded that the object was wreckage from the missing Piper Malibu aircraft.
In a statement issued on Monday, the AAIB said: "The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) carried out a further search of the area overnight, but did not identify any additional pieces of wreckage.
"Tragically, in video footage from the ROV one occupant is visible amidst the wreckage." An image released Monday, Feb. 4 by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) showing the rear left side of the fuselage including part of the aircraft registration N264DB
The AAIB added that the image showed the rear left side of the fuselage, the main body of the aircraft and part of the registration.
"We intend to publish an interim report within one month of the accident occurring," it said.
Recall that Sala, 28, and the 59-year-old Ibbotson were flying in the single-turbine aircraft from Nantes, in northern France, to Cardiff in Wales, when it disappeared from radar near the Channel Islands on January 21.
The Argentine striker had recently signed with English Premier League club Cardiff City for a reported £15 million ($19.3 million) from French club Nantes and was heading to the Welsh capital after saying farewell to his former teammates in France.
David Mearns, a marine scientist leading the private search team hired by Sala's family, said the wreckage of the plane had been located by sonar equipment at a depth of about 63 meters within the first couple of hours of starting Sunday's search. Experts on the larger vessel Geo Ocean III used by the air investigators confirmed it was the missing Piper Malibu aircraft.