The government’s air crash investigators have launched a probe into the disappearance of a small plane off the coast of Blackpool.
Although the light aircraft has not been found despite an extensive nine hour search, officials believe it crashed into the Irish Sea in poor weather conditions.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane before it disappeared off their radar screens three miles off-shore shortly after 9am yesterday.
Its pilot, a businessman making the short journey to Blackpool Airport from the Isle of Man in a Manx-based single engine prop plane, is also still missing.
Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) spokeswoman Sameena Rizwi said: “I can confirm the AAIB has commenced an investigation.”
A Coastguard-led multi-agency meeting to decide what happens next was due to start at 8.30am this morning, police said.