Wigwe, Eurocopter EC 130 and history of many crashes


In a devastating incident last week, the Eurocopter EC 130B4 helicopter, carrying Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Holdings Plc, his wife, son, and three others, crashed in California, United States.

This fatal crash adds to the troubling history of the Eurocopter EC 130, with five crashes recorded in 2023 alone.

The Eurocopter EC 130, produced by Airbus Helicopters SAS, has a concerning track record of accidents, including a similar crash in December 2023 in Mexico, where it struck power cables during takeoff, claiming three lives. Tragically, this incident marked the 11th crash involving Airbus models in 2023.

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Previously, in 2018, another Eurocopter EC 130B4 crash in the Grand Canyon claimed the lives of five Britons, including Stuart and Jason Hill, and Jonathan and Ellie Udall. Survivors sustained life-altering injuries, highlighting the severity of such accidents.

These incidents underscore the urgent need for improved safety measures, prompting the requirement for all helicopter fuel tanks to be shielded from rupture upon impact. With a recorded history of 100 crashes involving Airbus Helicopters SAS models since 1975, safety remains a critical concern in the aviation industry.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released details surrounding the helicopter crash.

During a press briefing held in Barstow, California, NTSB representatives, Michael Graham and Aaron Sours, shed light on the tragic incident.

Graham confirmed that all six individuals aboard the aircraft, including two crew members and four passengers, succumbed to fatal injuries, with reports indicating a fire outbreak upon impact.

“While our team diligently collects evidence at the scene, including witness statements and meteorological data, it’s crucial to analyze all factors to determine the probable cause,” stated Graham.

The investigation, expected to span 12 to 24 months, will delve into various aspects, including airworthiness, maintenance, meteorology, and air traffic control. Despite the absence of cockpit voice and flight data recorders, Graham emphasised the thoroughness of the NTSB’s approach.

Parties involved in the ongoing investigation include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Orbic Air LLC, the operator of the flight. Additionally, the French aviation accident investigation agency will play a crucial role as the manufacturer of the Airbus helicopter and Turbomeca engine.

As the NTSB continues its comprehensive inquiry, Graham assured that further updates will be provided to shed light on this tragic incident.

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