Leicester City helicopter crash: Investigators analyse flight recorder as police rule out collision with their drone

The AAIB confirmed that they are gathering evidence for an investigation that will hopefully be able to explain why this tragedy occurred

Ed Malyon
Monday 29 October 2018 13:25
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Son of Leicester chairman and his relatives lay wreath outside Leicester's stadium

Investigators working to find out what caused the helicopter crash that resulted in the death of Leicester City’s owner and his four fellow passengers have recovered the aircraft’s flight recorder, according to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four other people were killed in Saturday’s crash outside the King Power Stadium following the Foxes’ draw with West Ham United. Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s son, Aiyawatt, brought a wreath to the scene on Monday to add to the sea of flowers, shirts and club memorabilia that continues to grow two days on from the tragedy.

A book of condolence will be opened at the stadium on Tuesday morning, while Leicestershire police moved to dispel stories that one of their surveillance drones could have been a cause of the crash by confirming that it was “not in flight at the time the helicopter left the stadium” moments before the crash. Eye witnesses had reported seeing a drone flying earlier on Saturday afternoon.

The AAIB confirmed on Monday lunchtime that they had recovered the helicopter’s flight recorder and returned it to their base in Farnborough, Hampshire, for analysis while further inspectors continue at the scene in an attempt to piece together what caused Saturday’s incident.

“A team of AAIB inspectors travelled to Leicester on Saturday night, with further inspectors travelling [on Sunday] morning.

“Last night, the police said they believe that tragically all five people on board the aircraft died in the accident.

“We have inspectors here from all four air accident investigation disciplines: engineering, operations, flight data and human factors.

A sea of flowers at King Power Stadium as thousands pay tribute to Leicester City owner

“We recovered the digital flight data recorder (voice and data) on Sunday afternoon and one of our inspectors travelled back to Farnborough with the recorder the same evening. Today, our inspectors in Farnborough will start working on the recorder, which was subject to intense heat as a result of the post-accident fire.

“Our inspectors are continuing to work with the police on site. We expect to be here until the end of the week, at which point we will transport the wreckage to our specialist facilities in Farnborough for more detailed examination. In the meantime, we are still gathering evidence as part of our investigation.

“Witnesses to the accident, particularly with videos or photographs, are urged to contact Leicestershire Police on 101, quoting incident number 546 of 27 October 2018.”

Tributes pour in from around the world for Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha only took over at Leicester in 2010 but leaves a unique legacy as the owner of the team that produced one of the greatest stories in sport, defying the financial and competitive realities of the Premier League to win the title at 5,000-1 odds in 2016.

Fans paid tribute to those lost in the crash

Through horse racing and polo, where his King Power Foxes team contained some of the best players in the world, the businessman became known to members of the British royal family, playing on occasion with Princes Charles and William.

“I was lucky to have known Vichai for several years,” said Prince William. “He was a businessman of strong values who was dedicated to his family and who supported a number of important charitable causes. He made such a big contribution to football, not least through Leicester City’s magical 2016 season that captured the imagination of the world.”

Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s philanthropy and close bond with the local community in Leicester was reflected in the number of tributes to the owner who bankrolled the team’s return to the Premier League in 2014 and their improbable subsequent Premier League title.

“The outpouring of grief is a testament to how many people’s lives were touched by those on board,” prime minister Theresa May said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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