The Federal government on Monday confirmed that discussions have commenced with the United States government regarding the ongoing investigation into a helicopter crash that resulted in the deaths of Herbert Wigwe, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, and several other prominent Nigerians in California, USA, on Friday.
According to The PUNCH, the Director-General, NSIB, Captain Alex Badeh, confirmed the latest move by the Federal Government in a statement.
He said Nigeria’s engagement with the US on the issue aligns with Chapter 5, Subsection 27 of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Annex 13, which bothers on “Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation.”
According to the NSIB statement, Chapter 5, Subsection 27 of the ICAO Annex 13 stipulates that a state having a special interest in an accident due to fatalities or serious injuries to its citizens is entitled to appoint an expert to “Visit the scene of the accident; have access to relevant information approved for public release by the state conducting the investigation, as well as information on the progress of the investigation; receive a copy of the final report.”
Already, Badeh said correspondences between the NSIB and the US NTSB had revealed that the NTSB investigation into the crash was being led by Aaron Sauer as the investigator in charge, supported by Mark Ward as the deputy investigator in charge.
The DG affirmed Nigeria’s commitment to fully collaborating with the US agency, aiming for a thorough and conclusive investigation that would enhance transport safety in both Nigeria and the United States.
He stated the crash had brought a colossal loss to Nigeria, adding, “Our hearts go out to the Wigwe and Ogunbanjo families and loved ones affected by this tragedy. We extend our deepest sympathies to them during this difficult time.”
The statement, signed by the Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, NSIB, Mrs Bimbo Olawunmi Oladeji, quoted Badeh as explaining that, “Notably, the airworthiness investigation group initiated a meticulous examination of the debris field, which spans approximately 100 yards.
“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.”
Wigwe; his wife, Doreen; son, Chizi; and a former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Abimola Ogunbanjo, died after the Airbus Helicopter EC130B4 carrying them crashed at a border town between California and Nevada, killing all the six occupants including two crew members.