Wigwe: NSIB, NTSB To Probe Fatal Helicopter Crash

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Dr. Herbert Wigwe.
Dr. Herbert Wigwe.

The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have joined hands to investigate the tragic Airbus Helicopter EC130B4 crash resulting in the demise of the group chief executive director of Access Holdings, Dr. Herbert Wigwe and five others.

The crash occurred on February 9, 2024, near Interstate 15 in Halloran Springs, California. Confirming the accident, the NTSB dispatched its “Go Team” to investigate the incident. The helicopter, operated by Orbic Air, LLC, as a Part 135 charter flight, took off from Palm Springs, California, en route to Boulder City, Nevada.

Expressing its commitment to a thorough investigation, the NSIB is set to collaborate fully with the NTSB. The NTSB estimates the investigation duration to be 18 to 24 months, depending on various factors. The NSIB, as Nigeria’s multimodal transportation agency, is responsible for promoting transport safety and conducting objective and accurate investigations into transport accidents. The NTSB, its U.S. counterpart, shares a similar mandate.

The U.S. authorities have confirmed the tragic outcome of the crash, claiming the lives of two crew members and four passengers, including Wigwe, his wife, son and former group chairman of NGX Group, Mr. Abimbola Ogunbanjo.

NSIB’s director-general, Captain Alex Badeh initiated contact with the NTSB, aligning with international protocols granting a State special interest in an accident involving its citizens. This contact allows Nigeria, through the NSIB, to appoint an expert for active participation in the investigation.

The ongoing discussions between NSIB and NTSB underscore the NTSB’s diligent investigation efforts. NTSB investigators, including Aaron Sauer and Mark Ward, are examining various aspects, such as airworthiness, maintenance structures, operations, meteorology and air traffic control.

Preliminary investigation reports are expected within 14 to 21 days, with updates provided as information becomes available. The investigation process will involve the compilation of a public docket and the final aviation accident report, expected to conclude in approximately two years.

Parties to the investigation include Orbic Air, LLC, the FAA, and the French aviation accident investigation agency (BEA), with Airbus helicopters and Turbomeca engines serving as technical advisors.

This collaborative effort aims to unravel the circumstances surrounding the tragic incident and contribute to enhancing transport safety in Nigeria and the United States.

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