Report Reveals Mechanical Failure Behind Deadly Chopper Crash that Killed Leicester City Chairman


The catastrophic helicopter tragedy that claimed five lives, including Leicester City’s chairman, was sadly inevitable due to a succession of mechanical malfunctions. A groundbreaking report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) after a lengthy investigation of nearly five years has now confirmed this.

The unforeseen disaster occurred near Leicester’s King Power Stadium on the evening of 27 October 2018. The final report from the investigators bitterly pronounces that a malfunction in the helicopter’s tail rotor bearing was the immediate cause of the fatal incident.

According to the investigation, the unfortunate pilot could do “quite little” to avert the impending doom, considering the unexpected mechanical failure induced a sudden catastrophic uncontrollable motion that led to the accident.

The cruel hands of fate swept away Leicester City chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, his staff, Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, alongside renowned pilots and partners, Eric Swaffer and Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

Chief inspector of air accidents at the AAIB, Crispin Orr, noted that the experienced helmsman, Eric Swaffer aged 53, did endeavor to manage the Leonardo AW169 helicopter. However, the severe malfunction of the tail rotor bearing instantly led to a sharp, unstoppable right turn of the aircraft.

In a chilling voice recording, a bewildered Mr. Swaffer was heard exclaiming: “I’ve no idea what’s going on,” moments before the fatal crash into a concrete step.

Subsequently, four unfortunate passengers survived the impact of the crash, only to perish in an ensuing fire caused by a “significant” fuel leak.

Numerous brave first responders battled injuries from the raging heat of the fire as they desperately attempted to rescue those entrapped in the fiery wreckage. The report also noted the futile bravado of two police officers who attempted to shatter the helicopter’s windscreen with their batons, but to no avail.

Crispin Orr recounted the tragedy, remarking “This was a tragic accident in which five cherished lives were lost. Our deepest sympathies are with their loved ones, and everyone affected.”

The in-depth investigation detected a worn-out bearing on the helicopter’s tail rotor, which seized soon after the take-off. The malfunction resulted in the detachment of the shaft controlling the tail rotor, subsequently causing the helicopter to spiral uncontrollably.

While the AAIB report stressed that the helicopter complied with “all the required airworthiness norms” and was correctly maintained prior to the accident, it also noted that the wearing of the rotor bearing had been a gradual occurrence over time and hence remained undetectable prior to the flight.

The AAIB has now put forward eight safety-related recommendations to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to rectify the identified “weakness or omissions” in the regulations relating to the certification of large helicopters.

The tragic accident happened an hour post a Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United, sparking a wave of nationwide sorrow and tributes.

In honor of Mr. Vichai, Leicester’s squad traveled to Thailand for his funeral. Subsequently, a statue of Mr. Vichai was unveiled at the club in 2022 and his legacy was continued by his son Khun Aiyawatt “Top” Srivaddhanaprabha who stepped in to fill his father’s shoes as the club’s chairman.


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