Leicester City owner's helicopter crash caused by loss of tail rotor control



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The helicopter crash outside English Premier League club Leicester City's home ground, which killed club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others, was caused by a mechanical fault, investigators have found.

Key points:

  • Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's helicopter crashed shortly after take-off on October 27
  • Five people were killed in the crash in the carpark outside the English Premier League club's home stadium
  • UK air accident investigators are trying to find out why the tail rotor mechanism failed

The United Kingdom's Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) has released a preliminary report about the October 27 crash, which also killed Mr Srivaddhanaprabha's staff Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, the pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz.

The report says the mechanism linking the pilot's pedals with the tail rotor blades became disconnected, resulting in the helicopter making an uncontrollable right turn before it spun and crashed.

The aircraft reached an altitude of approximately 130 metres before plummeting to the ground just outside the stadium.

The report said: "The initiating cause and exact sequence of the failure that resulted in the loss of tail rotor control is being investigated as a priority."

After the crash, the manufacturer of the Agusta AW169 called for precautionary inspections on all aircraft in the global fleet, while the European Aviation Safety Agency ordered safety checks on the tail rotors on the helicopter and similar models.

The helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from the middle of the stadium approximately an hour after Leicester drew 1-1 with West Ham United.

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, a Thai retail billionaire, bought Leicester City in 2010 and oversaw the club's promotion to the Premier League in 2014 and fairytale league title win in the 2015/2016 season.

The family is highly respected in the city and has formed a close bond with the fans, sometimes mingling with them at games.

The owner had been praised for his charity work, donating 2 million pounds ($3.6 million) toward a new local children's hospital.

The crash shocked the football community, with tearful fans laying football jerseys, flags and flowers in a makeshift shrine outside the club's stadium.

High profile members of the club's first team and the coach were shaken by Mr Srivaddhanaprabha's death, leaving tributes on social media and visiting the site of the crash.

Leicester City created a condolences book for supporters to pay their respects, which was presented to the family.

ABC/ Wires