Leicester City: Air Accidents report reveals causes of 2018 helicopter crash as it left King Power Stadium

Former Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhnaprabha and four other passengers lost their lives in a helicopter crash in 2018

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The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has released a final report into the crash that claimed the lives of Leicester City chairman, Vichai Srivaddhnaprabha, two members of his staff - Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare - and pilots and partners Mr Swaffer and Izabela Roza Lechowicz. 

The crash, which happened on 27 October 2018, shook the footballing community and thousands of fans from around the country visited the King Power Stadium to leave flowers as a tribute to all those that lost their lives. Srivaddhnaprabha is remembered fondly by Leicester fans for his successful ownership of the club from 2011 to 2018. 

In that period he helped guide The Foxes from the Championship to an unprecedented Premier League title at odds of 5000/1.

Pilot could do ‘very little’ to stop Leicester City crash

The final report into the Leicester City crash has concluded that the pilot could do ‘very little’ to save those on board. The Air Accidents Investigation Board (AAIB) explains that a tailor rotor bearing was seized, which in turn caused the crash. The findings said the crash was ‘inevitable’ after a sequence of mechanical failures on the aircraft.

Chief investigator at the AAIB, Crispin Orr, said Mr Swaffer did what he could to control the Leonardo AW169 helicopter, but the catastrophic failure in a bearing in the tail rotor resulted in the aircraft making a sharp right turn.

As the helicopter was turning out of control, a shout of “hey,hey,hey” came from the rear cabin. Eric Swaffer is quoted at the time of the incident as saying: “I’ve no idea what’s going on” as the helicopter spun out of control.

Inspectors said four of the passengers survived the impact of the crash, but the fire that was caused by the fuel leak, proved fatal.

Two police officers arrived at the scene within one minute of the crash. They attempted to smash the helicopters wind screens with their batons, but failed. The 209-page final report has taken almost five years to complete and the AAIB described the investigation as “technically very complex.”

As a result of their findings AAIB have made eight safety recommendations to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to “address weaknesses or omissions” in regulations for certifying large helicopters.

Leicester City statement

Leicester City have commended the work of the AAIB and paid tribute to their former chairman in an emotional statement.

Leicester’s chief executive Susan Whelan said: “We commend the extensive and detailed body of work undertaken by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch and welcome the publication of its report, in the hope it will contribute positively to the continued development of future aviation standards and safety. 

“The tragic events of 27 October, 2018, will forever be etched into the memory of the Leicester City family. It was a night we experienced the devastating loss of our beloved Chairman, friends, colleagues, and family members. Yet, in our grief, a sense of unity and strength was forged. The extraordinary support and kindness that was extended to those affected, by communities across Leicestershire, football and the wider world will never be forgotten. As we near the fifth anniversary of the accident, the families and loved ones of Khun Vichai, Kaveporn, Nusara, Eric and Izabela remain always in our thoughts, as those we lost remain always in our hearts. 

“As a Club, we continue to feel the loss of Khun Vichai, who loved his Club, the city it calls home and the communities it represents. Our ongoing commitment to Khun Vichai’s vision, led with the same passion and devotion by Khun Aiyawatt and the Srivaddhanaprabha family, will be our lasting tribute to the memory of those we lost, and a reflection of the ambition, dedication and sense of community that brought us all together under Khun Vichai’s leadership.”