Many of the victims who died within the helicopter crash that killed the proprietor of Leicester Metropolis Soccer Membership survived the impression however couldn’t escape the craft, an investigation has discovered.
A report from the Air Accidents Investigation Department (AAIB) confirmed that 4 of the 5 victims concerned within the crash on the King Energy Stadium on Oct 27 2018 have been nonetheless alive on impression however most likely died moments later due to smoke inhalation.
It discovered that the accidents sustained by the victims within the crash mixed with the craft touchdown on its facet meant it was inconceivable for them to flee with out help.
The craft’s positioning additionally meant that the primary responders have been unable to realize entry into the cockpit earlier than the depth of the hearth prevented additional rescue makes an attempt.
The crash occurred shortly after the helicopter left the bottom. Leicester Metropolis proprietor Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, his staff Nusara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, the pilot Eric Swaffer and his associate, Izabela Roza Lechowicz – who was additionally knowledgeable pilot – have been killed within the accident.
It occurred solely an hour after a Premier League match between Leicester and West Ham United.
Based on the report, the Leonardo AW169 helicopter reached an altitude of roughly 430ft earlier than a mechanical fault within the craft’s tail rotor led to the pilot shedding management of the helicopter.
This led to the craft rotating 5 instances throughout its 14-second descent onto a concrete step exterior the stadium, the place it landed on its facet.
The report mentioned that regardless of the magnitude of the impression forces, post-mortems confirmed that 4 of the 5 occupants survived the preliminary impression.
First responders unable to realize entry
Nonetheless, it concluded that the accidents sustained would have prevented them from escaping from the helicopter with out exterior help given the way in which the craft got here to relaxation, which noticed the exit positioned on the highest level of the toppled plane.
The place additionally meant that first responders have been unable to realize entry to the exit, due to its peak from the bottom.
This resulted in a number of the first responders attempting to entry the victims by breaking the windscreen however this was designed to face up to a high-speed birdstrike, so couldn’t be damaged with the tools obtainable.
The craft was then quickly engulfed in an “intense post-impact fireplace” following a gasoline tank leak, with the craft’s smoke detection system triggering inside 13 seconds.
The autopsy concluded those that survived the preliminary impression would have “rapidly succumbed to inhalation of the merchandise of combustion”. The report didn’t give particulars on which passengers have been nonetheless alive after impression.
The investigation discovered that the helicopter failed after the bearings within the tail rotor failed, due to a build-up of stress.
This led to the rotor blade shifting to “its bodily restrict” when the pilot tried to show the craft, which brought about the helicopter to spin uncontrollably earlier than descending to the bottom.
Transcripts of the cockpit recordings revealed that the passengers within the rear of the cabin have been reported as shouting “Hey, hey, hey” because the craft started to lose management, to which the pilot replied: “I’ve no thought, what’s occurring.”
Mr Swaffer was praised for his actions throughout the report after he was capable of elevate the collective lever when the craft was 75ft from the bottom, a transfer that “cushioned the impression”.
Eight security suggestions
The realm wherein the helicopter struck the bottom was the one place subsequent to the stadium that didn’t comprise individuals, vehicles or different constructions.
The report mentioned: “Any change within the timing or lack of management or the pilot’s response may have resulted in third get together casualties and extra collateral injury on the bottom.”
Requested if this was “an accident ready to occur”, Adrian Cope, a senior inspector for engineering on the AAIB, instructed reporters: “It was a course of which constructed up constantly.”
Nonetheless, the investigation did reveal weaknesses within the regulator and inspection processes for helicopters sooner or later.
The report mentioned that the rules didn’t require producers to usually take away or examine essential half bearings, comparable to those that failed, towards their unique design.
Inspection of the bearing was required as soon as it had been used for 400 hours, however the helicopter had solely been flown for 331 hours when the accident occurred.
The AAIB made eight security suggestions to the European Aviation Security Company, whose guidelines for plane certification are mirrored by the Civil Aviation Authority within the UK, to “deal with weaknesses or omissions” in rules for certifying helicopters.
These embrace growing the extent of monitoring of fatigue on elements such because the bearings, in addition to extra common inspection programmes for security essential components of the helicopter.
Crispin Orr, Chief Inspector of Air Accidents on the AAIB mentioned: “This was a tragic accident wherein 5 individuals sadly misplaced their lives. Our ideas are with their family members, and everybody affected.
“In consequence, security motion has already been taken for the continued airworthiness of the AW169 and AW189 helicopter fleets.”