The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has announced its collaboration with the American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate the devastating crash of an Airbus Helicopter EC130B4 in California, which resulted in the deaths of Herbert Wigwe, the founding Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, and five others, including his family and Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group). The tragic incident occurred on Friday night.
As the Nigerian authority responsible for transport safety and accident investigations, the NSIB, in a statement by Mrs. Bimbo Olawunmi Oladeji, Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, confirmed its proactive engagement with the NTSB following the accident. The NTSB’s “Go Team” has been dispatched to the crash site in Halloran Springs, California, for immediate investigation.
The NSIB highlighted that this cooperation aligns with international civil aviation guidelines, specifically Chapter 5 Subsection 27 of ICAO’s Annex 13, which allows nations a special interest in accidents affecting their citizens to actively participate in the investigation process. Nigeria, through the NSIB, has taken this step to ensure thorough investigation and access to crucial information.
According to the NSIB statement, the NTSB has initiated a comprehensive examination of the accident scene, including aerial drone mapping and debris analysis. The investigation is spearheaded by Aaron Sauer, with Mark Ward serving as the deputy. The team will explore various factors, including the helicopter’s airworthiness, maintenance, operational procedures, meteorological conditions, and air traffic control communications.
The wreckage is slated for relocation to a secure facility for further examination, with involvement from Orbic Air, LLC, the FAA, and the French BEA, given the aircraft’s French manufacture. Airbus Helicopters and Turbomeca Engines are providing technical expertise.
The investigative process, expected to last between 18 to 24 months, will include a preliminary report, compilation of a public docket, and the final accident report detailing the probable cause.