Pedal fail­ure led to he­li­copter dis­as­ter

Bul­letin says ro­tor con­trol mal­func­tion was be­hind Le­ices­ter City tragedy:

Western Daily Press - - Front Page - NEIL LANCE­FIELD [email protected]­erndai­ly­

THE West-built he­li­copter in­volved in a crash which killed the owner of Le­ices­ter City lost con­trol after the pi­lot’s ped­als be­came dis­con­nected from the tail ro­tor, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said.

This re­sulted in the air­craft mak­ing an un­con­trol­lable right turn be­fore it spun and crashed, ac­cord­ing to a spe­cial bul­letin by the Air Ac­ci­dents In­ves­ti­ga­tion Branch (AAIB).

The tech­ni­cal re­port re­vealed that a sys­tem link­ing the pi­lot’s ped­als with the tail ro­tor failed.

The Agus­taWest­land AW169 he­li­copter, built in 2016, was made by Yeovil-based Leonardo.

An in­spec­tion at the crash site found parts of a mech­a­nism had be­come dis­con­nected and there was a “build-up of black grease” on one com­po­nent.

The fail­ure of the sys­tem led to the pitch of the tail ro­tor blades be­ing changed “un­til they reached the phys­i­cal limit of their travel”, in­ves­ti­ga­tors noted.

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

Footage of the in­ci­dent ap­pears to show that sec­tions of the tail ro­tor may have fallen off in mid-air.

The AW169 he­li­copter reached an alti­tude of ap­prox­i­mately 430ft be­fore plum­met­ing to the ground near Le­ices­ter City’s King Power Sta­dium.

It was rapidly en­gulfed in a postim­pact fire and all five peo­ple on board were killed.

Le­ices­ter City owner Vichai Sri­vad­dhanaprabha, em­ploy­ees Nur­sara Suk­na­mai and Kave­porn Pun­pare, pi­lot Eric Swaf­fer and his part­ner, Iz­abela Roza Le­chow­icz – who was also a pro­fes­sional pi­lot – were all killed in the ac­ci­dent on Oc­to­ber 27.

Fol­low­ing the crash, the Euro­pean Avi­a­tion Safety Agency or­dered that safety checks should be car­ried out on the tail ro­tors of AW169 he­li­copters and sim­i­lar mod­els.

Leonardo did not re­spond to re­quests yes­ter­day to com­ment on the AAIB bul­letin.

The Agus­taWest­land AW169 he­li­copter pic­tured at King PowerSta­dium, Le­ices­ter, last year

Vichai Sri­vad­dhanaprabha

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