Leicester City helicopter pilot's last words as chopper spiralled out of control moments after taking off killing five | The Sun

LEICESTER City's helicopter pilot's last words have been revealed as the chopper spiralled out of control moments after taking off.

Five passengers onboard the aircraft were all sadly killed when it plummeted to the ground 14 seconds after it had left King Power Stadium.

The club's chairman and Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, 60, was on the flight with pilot Eric Swaffer, co-pilot Izabela Lechowicz, and his staff members Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare.

Crash investigators found the seizure of the tail rotor’s duplex bearing was "catastrophic and [an] irrecoverable failure"- meaning the 430ft drop over a busy public car park couldn't have been averted.

And experienced pilot Eric, 53, last words were: "I have no idea what's going on," as he tried to navigate the chopper down as safely as possible.

Despite the fear, he successfully managed to avoid a mass tragedy as they plunged to the ground.


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Reports found that he perfectly performed every emergency action and even cushioned the blow by expertly pulling the collective control.

It meant only one passenger is believed to have been killed by impact on October 27, 2018.

The other four died when a significant fuel leak ignited the helicopter in just one minute.

Eric is said to have “uttered an exclamation” from the right hand seat next to his co-pilot girlfriend Izabela, 46.

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Shouts of “hey, hey, hey” were heard from the back where Vichai was with Nusara and Kaveporn who were heading to Stansted Airport to fly back to Thailand.

They had been picked up at the Battersea heliport in South London to watch Leicester’s 5.30pm kick off against West Ham.

But the 1-1 draw was marred with heartbreak by 7.37pm when the tail rotor failed as the owner’s chopper started to turn right after climbing to clear the stands.

It caused the back blades to rotate rapidly instead of balancing out the main rotor’s torque once the yaw pedals also disconnected.

David Firth-Wigglesworth, of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, said: “The tail rotor actuator designed to stabilise effectively reversed and became a destabilising force.”

Foxes fans laid touching tributes outside their home stadium where there is now a statue of the King Power founder who led them to Premier League glory in 2016.

Harrowing pictures of the mangled helicopter wreck showed the smashed fuel tank which burst into flames as four hero cops hopelessly tried to help.

Asked if it was “an accident waiting to happen”, AAIB engineering senior inspector Adrian Cope said: “It was a process which built up continuously.

"The damage in that bearing built up over a period of time.”

The issue would not have been discovered under existing maintenance rules as only the larger system is assessed instead of the sealed bearings themselves.

They were only due to be inspected at 400 hours but the G-VSKP helicopter had only done 331 and was deemed airworthy and properly serviced.

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Post-crash testing of the Italian vehicle manufacturer’s global fleet found the bearings were also failing on five other helicopters.

They have since been replaced with a new design as part of modifications made to the tail rotor actuator which now undergoes increased monitoring.

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