The final words of the pilot of the helicopter that crashed outside Leicester City's stadium, killing five people including its chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, have been revealed in a new report.
Pilot Eric Swaffer, 53, was flying the helicopter which carried Srivaddhanaprabha as well as employees Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, and Mr Swaffer’s partner, Izabela Roza Lechowicz, when it crashed outside the King Power Stadium, on 27 October 2018 shortly after take-off.
The Leonardo AW169 helicopter reached an altitude of around 430ft before plummeting to the ground.
A final report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has now been published, sharing details of the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.
Investigators found that the pilot’s pedals became disconnected from the tail rotor, which resulted in the aircraft making a sharp right turn that was ‘impossible’ to control.
The AAIB said that as the helicopter lost control, there was a shout of: "Hey, hey, hey!" from the rear cabin, where Mr Vichai and his employees were seated.
In his final words, experienced pilot Mr Swaffer could be heard saying: "I've no idea what's going on."
He also ‘uttered an exclamation’ shortly before the crash, according to the report.
The AAIB said the pilot had ‘performed the most appropriate actions’ which included raising a lever to reduce the helicopter’s pitch angle and ‘cushion the impact’.
The aircraft landed on a concrete step, coming to a rest on its left side.
Although four of the five occupants survived the initial impact, they subsequently died after the helicopter caught fire within a minute following a major fuel leak.
The AAIB said the crash was ‘inevitable’ following a series of mechanical failures.
Asked if it was ‘an accident waiting to happen’, Adrian Cope, AAIB senior inspector for engineering, told reporters: “It was a process which built up continuously.
“The damage in that bearing built up over a period of time.”
The 209-page report ruled out drone involvement and pilot error.
The AAIB’s chief inspector of air accidents Crispin Orr said: “The AAIB has carried out an extensive investigation to establish why the accident happened and how safety can be improved.”
Orr added: "This was a tragic accident in which five people sadly lost their lives. Our thoughts are with their loved ones, and everyone affected."
Topics: UK News