Helicopter crash that killed Leicester City owner caused by mechanical fault

Rex Christensen
December 7, 2018

Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, two of his staff Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and Mr Swaffer's girlfriend Izabela Roza Lechowicz were killed when the aircraft crashed into a auto park close to the King Power stadium on 27 October.

An official report has revealed that a 30cm pin triggered the helicopter crash that killed Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha alongside four passengers.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), who published the report had already revealed they were focusing their investigation on the helicopter's tail rotor.

An inspection found parts of the mechanism had become disconnected.

Its report found: 'The tail rotor system was first inspected at the crash site.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Thai retail entrepreneur who owned Leicester, was among those killed when his aircraft crashed and burst in flames outside the King Power Stadium following a Premier League game on October 27.

The report states that "the evidence gathered shows that the loss of control of the helicopter resulted from the tail rotator actuator control shaft becoming disconnected from the actuator lever mechanism".

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The failure of the system led to the pitch of the tail rotor blades being changed "until they reached the physical limit of their travel", investigators noted.

"The disconnection stopped the feedback mechanism for the tail rotor actuator from operating and the tail rotor actuator from responding to yaw control inputs".

A preliminary AAIB report in November used black box data that showed the aircraft "yawed to the right" when the pedal should have sent it left.

It went on: "Sufficient force and torque had been applied to the castellated nut on the actuator end of the control shaft to friction weld it to the pin carrier and to shear the installed split pin".

'This identified that the input lever mechanism was not attached to the control shaft.

Video footage taken by a King Power Stadium staff member just seconds before the incident showed a brief burst of smoke firing out of the tail rotor as the helicopter attempted to gain altitude, though it's unclear whether this is the cause of the damage to the part or indeed just a effect of it. The pin, spacers and one of the locating bearings were missing from the lever.

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