Wigwe: What preliminary report on helicopter crash revealed – NSIB

THE Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) said it had received initial findings from the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on the helicopter crash that took the life of Herbert Wigwe and five others.

The NSIB director of public affairs and consumer protection, Bimbo Oladeji, in a statement on Saturday, February 24, revealed that the preliminary findings showed the helicopter suffered catastrophic damage resulting in the fragmentation of significant components.

“The preliminary report on the Airbus Helicopter EC130B4 registered as N130CZ and operated by Orbic Air, LLC, under Part 135 regulations for on-demand flights, outlines crucial details surrounding the tragic incident.

“Departing from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, the helicopter embarked on a journey to Boulder City Municipal Airport in Nevada via Palm Springs International Airport. However, during its flight, adverse weather conditions, characterised by rain and a mix of snow, were encountered, as reported by witnesses.

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According to the Nigerian Safety Bureau, the NTSB also revealed that reports from law enforcement and eyewitnesses indicated several individuals who travelled along Interstate 15 observed a “fireball” in the area, prompting calls to emergency services.

“Subsequently, the wreckage of the helicopter was discovered in the high, mountainous desert and scrub-brush-covered terrain near Halloran Springs, California.

“Analysis of the accident site revealed a scattered debris pattern about 300 ft along a 120° magnetic, indicating a trajectory from an initial impact point which was a 1.5 ft deep, 12 ft long, and 10 ft wide ground crater, containing fragments of the right landing gear skid, cockpit wiring, and cabin floor structure,” NSIB said the NTSB findings showed.

It said the right skid step protruded upward at a 45° angle at the extreme eastern edge of the ground crater. Also, all major helicopter components were identified at the accident site. The helicopter’s fuselage was fragmented, and the cockpit and cabin were destroyed.

“Some debris and vegetation displayed thermal damage, indicative of the extent of the collision’s force. The flight control tubes and linkages leading up to the flight control servos were fragmented, and continuity could not be verified.

“All three pitch control links were attached at the swashplate and blade pitch change horns. The main rotor blades were fragmented and broomstrawed, and the blade sleeves and tips were present,” it stated.

According to NSIB, the data analysis utilised sources including automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data, operator personnel reports, and eyewitness accounts to reconstruct the flight path and sequence of events leading to the accident.

The NSIB’s right to access the findings is based on the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation.



    NSIB said it would further engage the NTSB to receive the public docket of the investigation, which will comprise the compendium of information gathered throughout the investigation.

    “This typically includes photographs, interview summaries, documentation, and other relevant data that will give a clearer picture of the factors that led to the accident,” it added.

    Wigwe, his wife, son, and Abimbola Ogunbanjo, a former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, lost their lives in the unfortunate helicopter crash that occurred on February 9, The ICIR reported.

    Before his death, Wigwe was the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc.

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