NSIB Partners NTSB to Investigate Wigwe, 5 Others Death

The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has partnered with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate the death of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Access Holdings, Dr. Herbert Wigwe and five others.

This comes following the demise of Dr. Wigwe in an helicopter crash in California, United States of America (USA) on Friday which also took the lives of five (5) other individuals, including his son, wife and business partner.

Meanwhile, NSIB in a statement issued by its Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Mrs. Bimbo Olawunmi Oladeji on Monday revealed that with the support of NTSB, investigation is underway to look into the helicopter crash.

“The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has offered its full cooperation to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the investigation of the tragic Airbus Helicopter EC130B4 crash that resulted in the death of Dr Herbert Wigwe CFR, Group CEO of Access Holdings and five others who were onboard,” the statement reads in part.

It added: “Following the helicopter crash which occurred on Friday, February 9, 2024, at about 10:08PM. (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.”

The statement also disclosed that the United States authorities confirmed that everyone onboard the aircraft lost their lives in the crash – and the deceased are two crew members comprising a pilot in command and a “safety pilot” and four passengers namely Dr Herbert Wigwe, his wife, son, and Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo, former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, (NGX Group).

Following the accident, the Director General of the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, Captain Alex Badeh has established contact with NTSB, in accordance with Chapter 5 subsection 27 of International Civil Aviation Organization (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 which 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 which is approved for public release by the State conducting the investigation, and information on the progress of the investigation; and receive a copy of the Final Report,” 5.27 explained.

Consequently, ICAO’s Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil therefore grants Nigeria, through the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau, the prerogative to appoint an expert to actively participate in the investigation. The participation ensures access to relevant information and facilitates cooperation with the investigating authorities, towards ensuring the investigation reaches a conclusive outcome.

Similarly, 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.

It was also stated that other NTSB investigators will also be examining various aspects of the accident including airworthiness and maintenance structures, operations, meteorology and air traffic control.

According to the statement, parties involved in the investigation include Orbic Air, LLC, and the FAA.

In the same vein, 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 manufacturer for the Airbus helicopter and Turbomeca Engine. Hence, both Airbus Helicopters and Turbomeca Engines will serve as technical advisors to the investigation.

NTSB said that the duration of the accident investigation being conducted  is expected to be completed within 18 to 24 months – and it depends on different factors.

NTSB also noted that its 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 and the 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.”

NSIB reiterated its commitment to collaborate fully with the NTSB, thereby achieving a thorough and conclusive investigation that will enhance transport safety in both Nigeria and the United States.

NSIB and NTSB condoled with the families of the deceased and vowed to provide update on the investigation as soon as information becomes available.

NSIB is the multimodal transport agency in Nigeria responsible for promoting transport safety and conducting objective and thorough, investigations into transport accidents, while the NTSB is the counterpart agency in the United States charged with fulfilling the same function as the NSIB.

Hope Ejairu

Hope Ejairu is a writer, sports analyst and journalist, with publications on print and digital media. He holds certifications in various media/journalism trainings, including AFP.

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