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‘Reports suggest rainy, wintry weather’ — US authorities share update on Wigwe chopper crash

BY Claire Mom


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the US has provided an update on the crash of a chopper that had Herbert Wigwe, group chief executive officer (GCEO) of Access Holdings Plc, on board.

TheCable understands that Wigwe, his wife and son were onboard the helicopter when it crashed in California near the Nevada border.

Abimbola Ogunbanjo, the former group chairperson of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), was also reported to be on the aircraft.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had earlier said it would be involved in the investigation of the accident but noted that the NTSB would be in charge.


Speaking during a media briefing held at 6pm Pacific time on Saturday (3am Nigerian time, Sunday), Michael Graham, NTSB board member, said officials were on the scene to gather perishable evidence.

Graham said the team was “methodically and systematically reviewing all evidence” and considering all potential factors to determine the probable cause of the crash.

The NTSB board member said although the information provided was only preliminary, witness reports suggested that a wintry weather condition was among the factors that contributed to the accident.


He said the chopper had two crew members and four passengers — all of whom were fatally injured.

“The crew consisted of a pilot in command and a safety pilot. The accident flight was operated by Orbic Air LLC as a Part 135 charter flight,” Graham said.

“Witness reports of the weather conditions at the time of the accident suggest rain and a wintry mix.

“The helicopter was not equipped with a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder. This helicopter was not required to be equipped with those types of recording devices.”


Graham added that the NTSB would look into the chopper’s airworthiness; maintenance and structure of the helicopter, operations, meteorology, and air traffic control.

“Parties to the investigation include the FAA and Orbic Air LLC. As the investigation continues, other parties could be named,” he said.

“The BEA — the French aviation accident investigation agency — will serve as an accredited representative because France is a state of the manufacturer of the Airbus helicopter and the Turbomeca engine.”

Graham said documentation of the on-scene investigations will include aerial mapping of the wreckage with a drone and site measurements.

He said the NTSB will obtain flight crew records, helicopter maintenance records, and flight dispatch records from Orbic Air for documentation.

When asked about more information on the passengers, Graham said there were no details but added that “any names will be released through the coroner’s office” without specifying a time frame.


Graham said a report will be available in a “couple of weeks” but said a full NTSB investigation will last 12 to 24 months before a final report is published.

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