Harbert Wigwe: NSIB Receives U.S. Preliminary Report On Crash

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The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) says it has received the preliminary report from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) regarding the crashed helicopter that killed Dr Herbert Wigwe and five others.

Mrs Bimbo Oladeji, Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, NSIB, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.

On Feb. 9, Wigwe, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, his wife, son and a former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, as well as some others were onboard the ill-fated Airbus Helicopter EC130B4.

Oladeji said that following the accident, the NSIB offered its full cooperation to the NTSB, the lead agency investigating the accident which claimed the lives of six individuals.

The crash occured at the Interstate 15 in Halloran Springs, California, U.S.A.

According to Oladeji, initial findings suggest that the helicopter suffered catastrophic damage upon impact, resulting in fragmentation of major components.

She said: “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.

“Reports from law enforcement and eyewitnesses also indicated that several individuals travelling along Interstate 15 (I-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. The right skid step protruded upward at a 45° angle at the extreme eastern edge of the ground crater.

“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.

“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.”

Oladeji said that the NSIB, in accordance with the prerogative granted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO’s) Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, had the right to access investigation information.

“On aviation accidents and incidents involving Nigerian-registered aircraft or Nigerian citizens in 193 countries that are member states of the ICAO.

“The NSIB  has been actively engaging with the NTSB since the beginning of the investigation.

She said that as the investigation progresses, NSIB will be committed to engaging 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.”

Also, the Director-General of the NSIB, Capt. Alex Badeh, expressed gratitude for the cooperation extended by the NTSB, which has facilitated the sharing of vital information.

“We will continue to work closely with relevant authorities leading the investigation, including the NTSB, to gather additional evidence and information necessary for a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances that led to this tragic event,” Badeh.

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