A final report into the helicopter crash which killed five people outside Leicester City’s stadium, has now been published, concluding that there was “very little” the pilot could do to save those on board, including the club’s chairman.
The crash, which took place on October 27 2018, claimed the lives of Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, two members of his staff – Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare – and pilots and partners Mr Swaffer and Isabel Roza Lechowicz.
A final 209-page report by The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), was released yesterday, almost five years after the catastrophe.
It states that the crash was “inevitable” following a sequence of mechanical failures. A tail rotor bearing seized, which in turn caused the crash it revealed.
Swaffer, a highly experienced pilot “performed the most appropriate actions” but was unable to regain control of the aircraft after it spun out of control.
Cockpit voice recordings picked up a shout of “hey, hey, hey!” from the rear cabin as the helicopter started turning uncontrollably to which Mr Swaffer responded: “I’ve no idea what’s going on” and “uttered an exclamation”.
Four of the five occupants survived the initial impact but died in the subsequent fire.
Police officers arrived within a minute of the crash, which happened at around 20:30pm – shortly after taking off from Leicester City FC, following their 1-1 draw against West Ham.
The Leonardo AW169 helicopter reached an altitude of approximately 430ft before plummeting to the ground in a nearby industrial estate.
However, officers were unable to break the windscreen of the aircraft with their batons and other handheld equipment as it burned, AAIB said.
Commenting on the report, Leicester City 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.”