The helicopter crash that resulted in the deaths of Leicester City football club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four other people was due to a mechanical fault, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said. A failure of the mechanism connecting the pilot’s control pedals with the rotor blades in the AW169’s tail caused the helicopter to spin out of control and plunge to the ground.
The chopper burst into flames on impact in the parking lot outside Leicester’s King Power Stadium following a Premier League game on October 27.
Killed along with Srivaddhanaprabha were two members of his staff, Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, and pilots Eric Swaffer and Izabela Roza Lechowicz. Parts of the defective mechanism were found at the crash site.
“The initiating cause and exact sequence of the failure that resulted in the loss of tail rotor control is being investigated as a priority,” the AAIB said.
Srivaddhanaprabha, 61, was the head of the King Power International Group, a leading retail company in Thailand.
He bought Leicester City in 2010 when the club was playing in the Championship, England’s second division.
Under the Thai mogul’s leadership, Leicester achieved promotion to the Premier League for the 2015-2016 season. Widely expected to struggle on their return to the top-flight, the Foxes instead shocked the football world by winning the title.