Sala, a striker who played for Nantes in the French top flight, was preparing to start a new career in the British Premier League at Cardiff.
David Mearns, the captain of the search boat hired by Sala's Argentinian family, confirmed he found the wreckage in the English Channel north of Guernsey using sonar equipment on Sunday morning, just hours after the search began.
A remotely operated vehicle surveyed the area and, based on analysis of the video footage, investigators have concluded that the object was wreckage from the missing Piper Malibu aircraft. The aircraft had been carrying Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the AAIB said: "The AAIB commissioned specialist vessel Geo Ocean III and Blue Water Recoveries Ltd commissioned FPV Morven and the search area was divided between the vessels".
The search for Sala and Ibbotson was restarted on Sunday after over £324,000 was raised online to fund a new private investigation.
"I can not believe it".
Sala's father, Horacio, reportedly told a local Argentinian broadcaster, "I can not believe it".
Even if investigators are able to analyse the wreckage up-close, the reason for the plane ending up on the bottom of the Channel may not be established.
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Marine scientist David Mearns led the search on Sunday and confirmed that the plane was located and that families were notified by police.
At Cardiff's match against Bournemouth on Saturday, Sala's photograph appeared on the front cover of the matchday programme.
"I communicated with them every day, but since I do not have WhatsApp it's hard to call them or call me".
An official search was called off after three days when rescuers said there was little chance anyone aboard the single-engine aircraft had survived.
Sala's family had maintained hope that the player would be found alive, though the news that the aircraft was located along with reports that an occupant was visible inside it on the seabed, appear to have extinguished any faint hopes they had.
Sala's family wanted the plane to be brought to the surface, Mearns said.
The AAIB was advised by its French counterparts on Monday that part of a cushion was found on a beach near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula.
Last week players and fans in Nantes paid tribute to the missing footballer in an emotional match against Saint-Etienne that reduced Nantes manager Vahid Halilhodzic to tears.