HEADLINE | Posted: Monday, February 12, 2024
By Olugbenga Ige
The Nigerian government has joined the investigation of the helicopter crash which killed the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, Herbert Wigwe, and five others in the United States.
Recall that Wigwe, his wife, son, and the former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), Abimbola Ogunbanjo, died on Friday in a helicopter crash in California, the United States.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the United States had already commenced an investigation into the incident.
In a statement on Monday by its spokesperson, Bimbo Olawunmi Oladeji, the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) said it has offered its full cooperation to the NTSB in the investigation of the tragic crash.
Oladeji said the NSIB Director General, Captain Alex Badeh, established contact with NTSB, in accordance with Chapter 5 subsection 27 of ICAO’s Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation – Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation, which grants a State (nation) special interest in an accident involving its citizens.
The NSIB said the United States authorities have now confirmed that everyone onboard the ill-fated helicopter, operated by Orbic Air, LLC as a Part 135 charter flight, lost their lives in the crash.
It further added that the duration of the accident investigation being conducted by NTSB is expected to take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete.
It said, “Regrettably, the United States authorities have now confirmed that everyone onboard the aircraft lost their lives in the crash.
“The deceased are two crew members comprising a pilot in command and a “safety pilot” and four passengers namely Dr Herbert Wigwe, his wife, son, and Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, (NGX Group).
“ICAO’s Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil therefore grants Nigeria, through the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, the prerogative to appoint an expert to actively participate in the investigation.
“This participation ensures access to relevant information and facilitates cooperation with the investigating authorities, towards ensuring the investigation reaches a conclusive outcome.
“The ongoing discussion between the NSIB and NTSB has highlighted the diligent investigation efforts of the NTSB.
“NTSB investigators were present at the crash scene in Halloran Springs, California, on Saturday to collect evidence and conduct initial on-scene documentation. The documentation process included aerial mapping of the wreckage with a drone, and site measurements.
“Several other NTSB investigators will also be examining various aspects of the accident including airworthiness and maintenance structures, operations, meteorology and air traffic control.
“Notably, the airworthiness investigation group initiated a meticulous examination of the debris field, which spans approximately 100 yards.
“All significant components of the helicopter, including the main transmission, engine, and various avionic elements, were identified and accounted for at the accident site.
“In tandem, the operations investigation group has commenced gathering crucial company information, including pilot records, flight dispatch records, and aircraft maintenance records.
“Moving forward, coordination is underway by the NTSB to transfer the wreckage to a secure location on Tuesday for in-depth examination and analysis scheduled.
“Parties to the investigation include Orbic Air, LLC, and the FAA. As the investigation continues, other parties could be named.
“Additionally, the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), the French aviation accident investigation agency, will also serve as an accredited representative, due to France being the state of manufacturer for the Airbus helicopter and Turbomeca Engine.
“Both Airbus Helicopters and Turbomeca Engines will serve as technical advisors to the investigation.”