Damage to the tail rotor led to a deadly Leicester helicopter accident

In a somber revisit to a tragic chapter in the world of sports, we examine the devastating Leicester helicopter crash of October 27, 2018. This catastrophic event, which claimed the lives of five individuals including Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the owner of Leicester City Football Club, has now been investigated and reevaluated in 2023. The latest report sheds light on the role of a damaged tail rotor in the accident, offering a clearer understanding of the events that led to this heartbreaking incident.

The Fateful Night

On that ill-fated evening, a sense of anticipation and celebration hung in the air as Leicester City fans congregated outside the King Power Stadium following a Premier League match against West Ham United. As had become tradition, the club’s owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, along with four others, boarded an AgustaWestland AW169 helicopter on the pitch to depart the stadium.

Moments after takeoff, witnesses observed the helicopter losing control, spiraling toward the ground before crashing and igniting in flames. The entire football community and beyond were plunged into mourning, grappling with the profound loss of five lives.

The Investigative Journey

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) initiated a comprehensive inquiry to ascertain the cause of the Leicester helicopter crash. This investigation included an exhaustive examination of the wreckage, in-depth scrutiny of flight data, and meticulous review of maintenance records.

The 2023 Report

The 2023 report on the Leicester helicopter crash has now been released, providing critical insights into the incident’s causes and lessons learned. Central to the report’s findings is the role played by a damaged tail rotor in the accident. Specifically, the report highlights the disconnection of a crucial component, the tail rotor control shaft, as the primary contributing factor to the helicopter’s loss of control.

This malfunction led to erratic tail rotor behavior, rendering the pilot unable to maintain stable flight. As a result, the helicopter spiraled uncontrollably, tragically crashing just moments after takeoff.

Implications and Preventative Measures

The 2023 report underscores the critical importance of meticulous aircraft maintenance and stringent safety protocols. It serves as a stark reminder of the far-reaching consequences of even minor mechanical failures in aviation.

In light of this tragedy, the aviation industry, sports clubs, and helicopter operators worldwide have reevaluated their safety procedures and maintenance practices. Lessons drawn from this heart-wrenching incident are now being applied to enhance helicopter safety, emphasizing rigorous inspections and maintenance of key components, especially the tail rotor assembly.


The 2023 report on the deadly Leicester helicopter crash, attributing the tragedy to a damaged tail rotor, provides valuable insights into the circumstances that led to the loss of five precious lives. While this incident remains a painful chapter in the history of sports, its legacy serves as a catalyst for industry-wide improvements in helicopter safety, ensuring that such a tragedy is not repeated in the future.

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