The pilot of the helicopter involved in the crash that claimed the life of Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha almost five years ago said: ‘I have no idea what is going on’ as the plane was spinning out of control.
Eric Swaffer, 53, made the comment seconds before the helicopter touched down outside the club’s King Power Stadium on October 27, 2018, a report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has revealed. – which excluded pilot error as the cause of the accident. accident.
Srivaddhanaprabha, employees Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, Mr Swaffer and his partner, Izabela Roza Lechowicz – also a commercial pilot – were all killed in the crash, which occurred shortly after the helicopter took off from the field.
The Leonardo AW169 helicopter reached an altitude of approximately 430 feet before crashing to the ground.
Investigators found that the pilot’s pedals disconnected from the tail rotor, causing the aircraft to turn sharply right, “impossible” to control.
The AAIB described it as “a catastrophic failure”, causing the helicopter to spin rapidly, about five times.
As the helicopter spiraled out of control, a shout of “Hey, hey, hey! came from the aft cabin, where Mr. Vichai and his employees were seated, the AAIB said.
Mr. Swaffer, who was a very experienced pilot, responded by saying, “I have no idea what’s going on” and “let out an exclamation”, according to the report.
He “performed the most appropriate actions,” including raising a lever to reduce the helicopter’s bank angle and “cushion the impact,” the AAIB said.
The aircraft landed on a concrete step and came to rest on its left side.
Four of the five occupants survived the initial impact, but no one survived as the helicopter caught fire within a minute of a major fuel leak.
The crash happened around an hour after a Premier League game between Leicester and West Ham.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, Foxes General Manager Susan Whelan said: “We commend the thorough and detailed work undertaken by the Air Accident Investigation Branch and welcome the release of its report, in the hope that ‘it will contribute positively to the continuation of the investigation of air accidents. the development of future standards and aviation safety.
“The tragic events of October 27, 2018 will forever be etched in the memories of the Leicester City family. It is a night when we experienced the devastating loss of our beloved President, our friends, colleagues and family members.
“Yet in our grief, a sense of unity and strength was forged. The extraordinary support and kindness shown to those affected, by communities in Leicestershire, football and around the world, will never be forgotten.
“As we approach the fifth anniversary of the accident, the families and loved ones of Khun Vichai, Kaveporn, Nusara, Eric and Izabela always remain in our thoughts, just as those we lost always remain in our hearts.
“As a club, we continue to feel the loss of Khun Vichai, who loved his club, the city he calls home and the communities he represents.
“Our continued commitment to Khun Vichai’s vision, led with the same passion and dedication by Khun Aiyawatt and the Srivaddhanaprabha family, will be our lasting tribute to the memory of those we have lost and a reflection of ambition, dedication and sense of community that brought us all together under Khun Vichai’s leadership.
A statue of Mr Vichai was unveiled at the stadium in April last year.