Preliminary reports from United States authorities suggest that wintry weather conditions might have contributed to the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Herbert Wigwe, group chief executive officer of Access Holdings Plc, his wife, son and former Nigerian Exchange Group Plc chairperson, Abimbola Ogunbanjo.
The tragic incident occurred near the California-Nevada border on Friday in the United States.
Michael Graham, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), provided initial insights during a media briefing held on Saturday (3 a.m. Nigerian time, Sunday).
Graham said that officials were at the crash site collecting perishable evidence, and the team is methodically reviewing all available evidence to determine the probable cause of the crash.
While cautioning that the information is preliminary, Graham mentioned that witness reports indicated wintry weather conditions, including rain and a wintry mix, at the time of the accident.
The helicopter, operated by Orbic Air LLC as a Part 135 charter flight, had two crew members onboard, consisting of a pilot in command and a safety pilot.
Graham also revealed that the helicopter didn’t have a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder, which were not required for this type of aircraft.
The NTSB will investigate various aspects, including the helicopter’s airworthiness, maintenance, and structure, as well as operations, meteorology, and air traffic control.
The French Aviation Accident Investigation Agency (BEA) will serve as an accredited representative due to France being the state of the manufacturer of the Airbus helicopter and the Turbomeca engine.
Further details, including the passengers’ names, will be released through the coroner’s office, and the NTSB will collaborate with other parties, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Orbic Air LLC as the investigation progresses.
According to Graham, investigators are still working on finding out the exact weather at the time of the crash.
“This is the beginning of a long process. We will not jump to any conclusions,” Graham said, warning that it could take 12 to 24 months for the full report on the investigation to be ready.