The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has sought cooperation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the investigation of the tragic Airbus Helicopter EC130B4 crash that resulted in the deaths of the Group CEO of Access Holdings, Dr Herbert Wigwe and four others.
NSIB, in a statement by its director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Bimbo Olawunmi, on the tragic incident, made the pledge to work with the American NTSB.
This is as the Bank Directors Association of Nigeria, (BDAN) expressed its condolences on the tragic loss of Dr. Wigwe, his wife Chizoba, and son Chizi, as well as the former group chairman of Nigeria Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group), Abimbola Ogunbanjo.
Chairman, Board of Directors, Mustafa Chike-Obi and chief executive, Adebukola Orenuga, BDAN, in a statement, noted that the banking sector in Nigeria and Africa collectively is saddened by the untimely demise of these influential figures.
They noted that Wigwe was revered as an icon and respected leader in the banking industry, leaving behind a legacy marked by integrity, professionalism, dedication, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. His absence will be keenly felt, and BDAN acknowledges his significant contributions to the sector.
They stated that: “On behalf of the Banking sector in Nigeria and Africa at large, the Bank Directors Association of Nigeria is deeply saddened to hear about the untimely passing unto glory of the co-founder and group chief executive officer of Access Holdings, Dr. Herbert Wigwe; along with his wife, Chizoba and son, Chizi.
“Dr. Wigwe was an Icon and a respected leader in the Banking industry and his presence will be sorely missed. He will be fondly remembered for his significant contributions to the Banking Industry, leaving behind a legacy of integrity, professionalism, dedication and unwavering commitment to excellence.
‘We also commiserate with the family of Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former group chairman of Nigeria Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group). This is a great loss to the Banking and Financial Services Sector, and Nigeria as a country.’
Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones and the Access Holdings team at this challenging time. We pray that they rest in perfect peace.”
Following the helicopter crash that occurred on Friday, February 9, 2024, at about 10:08 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) near Interstate 15 in Halloran Springs, California, the NTSB confirmed the accident via its post on X and stated that it had dispatched its “Go Team” to investigate the accident.
The ill-fated helicopter, operated by Orbic Air, LLC, as a Part 135 charter flight, departed from Palm Springs, California, at 8:45 p.m. PST, en route to Boulder City, Nevada, said Michael Graham, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, during a news conference on Saturday.
In the aftermath of the accident, the Director General of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, Captain Alex Badeh jnr, established contact with NTSB in accordance with Chapter 5, Subsection 27 of ICAO’s Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation—Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation, which grants a state (nation) special interest in an accident involving its citizens.
A state that has a special interest in an accident by virtue of fatalities or serious injuries to its citizens shall be entitled to appoint an expert who shall be entitled to: visit the scene of the accident; have access to the relevant information that is approved for public release by the state conducting the investigation; and receive a copy of the final report. ICAO’s Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Law therefore grants Nigeria, through the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, the prerogative to appoint an expert to actively participate in the investigation.
This participation ensures access to relevant information and facilitates cooperation with the investigating authorities towards ensuring the investigation reaches a conclusive outcome. The ongoing discussion between the NSIB and NTSB has highlighted the diligent investigation efforts of the NTSB.
NTSB investigators were present at the crash scene in Halloran Springs, California, on Saturday to collect evidence and conduct initial on-scene documentation.
The documentation process included aerial mapping of the wreckage with a drone and site measurements.
Correspondence between the NSIB and NTSB further revealed that the NTSB investigation into the crash is being led by Aaron Sauer as the investigator in charge, supported by Mark Ward as the deputy investigator in charge.
Several other NTSB investigators will also be examining various aspects of the accident, including airworthiness and maintenance structures, operations, meteorology, and air traffic control.
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 an in-depth examination and analysis scheduled Parties to the investigation include Orbic Air, LLC, and the FAA.
As the investigation continues, other parties could be named. Additionally, the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), the French aviation accident investigation agency, will also serve as an accredited representative, due to France being the state of manufacture for the Airbus helicopter and Turbomeca Engine.
Both Airbus helicopters and Turbomeca engines will serve as technical advisors to the investigation. The duration of the accident investigation being conducted by NTSB is expected to take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete.
The actual duration depends on many factors. Each investigator carries a caseload of many accident investigations, which they work on concurrently, and each investigation presents its own unique complexities.
The NTSB accident investigation process typically comprises three major milestones. The first is the preliminary investigation report, which contains information gathered by investigators during the on-scene examination. This report is expected to be released within 14 to 21 days following the date of the examinations.
The next milestone involves the compilation of the public docket, which includes a collection of information gathered throughout the investigation. This typically includes photographs, interview summaries, documentation, and other relevant data.
“Finally, the third milestone is the publication of the final aviation accident report, which serves to conclude the investigation.
This report may take up to two years to complete and usually contains analysis and a statement of the probable cause of the accident, if determined.”
The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau reaffirms its commitment to collaborate fully with the National Transportation Safety Board, aiming for a thorough and conclusive investigation that will enhance transport safety in both Nigeria and the United States.
According to NSIB, “The Airbus Helicopter EC130B4 crash has brought a colossal loss to our dear nation, Nigeria.
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.
Updates on the investigation will be provided as information becomes available.”