The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) says it is collaborating with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to intensify investigation on the helicopter that caused the death of Dr Herbert Wigwe and five others.
Mrs Bimbo Oladeji, Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, disclosed this in a statement on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Wigwe, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, his wife, son and some others were onboard the ill-fated Airbus Helicopter EC130B4 helicopter.
The crash occurred on Friday, Feb. 9, at about 10:08 p.m. near Interstate 15 in Halloran Springs, California, while the NTSB confirmed the accident via its post on X .
It stated that it had dispatched its “Go Team” to investigate the accident.
The ill-fated helicopter, operated by Orbic Air, LLC as a Part 135 chartered flight, departed from Palm Springs, California, at 8:45 p.m. PST, enroute to Boulder City, Nevada, said Michael Graham, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, during a news conference on Saturday.
“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),
“In the aftermath of the accident, the Director-General, NSIB, 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 section reads: “5.27 A State which has a special interest in an accident by virtue of fatalities or serious injuries to its citizens shall be entitled to appoint an expert who shall be entitled to.
“Visit the scene of the accident; have access to the relevant information which is approved for public release by the state conducting the investigation, and information on the progress of the investigation; and receive a copy of the final report,” the statement read.
It said that the ICAO’s Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil, therefore, granted Nigeria, through the NSIB, 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.
“Correspondence between the NSIB and NTSB further revealed that the NTSB investigation into the crash is being led by Aaron Sauer as the investigator in charge, supported by Mark Ward as the deputy investigator in charge.
“Several other NTSB investigators will also be examining various aspects of the accident including airworthiness and maintenance structures, operations, meteorology and air traffic control,” he said.
It also said that the airworthiness investigation group had initiated a meticulous examination of the debris field, which spans approximately 100 yards.
The bureau noted, “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.”
According to the statement, the duration of the accident investigation being conducted by NTSB is expected to take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete.(NAN)