The Sikorsky S-76C helicopter was carrying the royal couple and four other passengers when it began to veer to the right as it approached Denham aerodrome in Buckinghamshire.
The reason why the helicopter had to make an emergency landing was revealed on Wednesday. It seems the incident occurred because of a tiny broken metal ball. The aircraft was forced to make a ‘Pan’ emergency after neither of the pilots could balance the aircraft properly.
The report by the Air Accidents Investigations Branch was released for the first time yesterday which revealed the couple’s ‘hairy’ escape. The report stated that a tiny metal ball, just 2mm in diameter, shattered. This ball controls the helicopter’s dynamics and therefore meant the pilots had no choice but to make an emergency landing.
The report said that the ball had most likely fractured shortly after the Prince of Wales left London. The Duchess of Cornwall was reportedly ‘shaken’ by the incident. Nonetheless, the couple still insisted on travelling to Hay-on-Wye by car, arriving three hours late. Aides said that they were detirmined not to let down the public who were waiting for them.
The Air Accidents Investigations Branch explained that a “detailed metallurgical analysis of the ball by the National Transportation Safety Board is continuing. However, the most likely cause of the ball fracture was an anomaly in its heat treatment process during manufacture.’