An American court in January asked Airbus Helicopter SAS, the manufacturer of the helicopter in which top Nigerian banker Herbert Wigwe was travelling before a fatal crash, to pay the family of a victim of another crash $75 million.
Wigwe was the group CEO of Access Bank, Nigeria’s largest bank by assets.
His wife, son and Abimbola Ogunbanjoa, a former chair of Nigerian Exchange Group, were also on board when the copter crashed in Nipton, a community in San Bernardino County in California, United States.
They were travelling in a Eurocopter EC 130 chopper.
“It has been confirmed all six people on board the aircraft are deceased,” San Bernardino Sheriff’s office said in a statement. “The identities of the deceased will be released once positive identification has been made and next of kin notifications have been made.”
Manufactured by Airbus Helicopters SAS (formerly Eurocopter), the single-engine aircraft and its variations have a long history of accidents.
On December 1, a Eurocopter EC 130B4, belonging to the Mexican Federal Electricity Commission, struck power cables during take-off and crashed, killing three people on board.
A February 2018 crash involving another Eurocopter EC 130B4 killed five people, all of them Britons, in the Grand Canyon.
Two brothers, Stuart and Jason Hill, 30 and 32, were among the dead. Stuart Hill’s girlfriend Becky Dobson was also killed in the crash. The three were pronounced dead at the scene.
Husband and wife Jonathan and Ellie Udall were also victims of the deadly crash. They both died of complications from burns days later.
The pilot Scott Booth and Jason Hill’s girlfriend Jennifer Dorricott survived. But both sustained life-altering injuries.
The aircraft burst into flames after crashing. The pilot told American investigators that the helicopter encountered a “violent gust of wind” and started spinning.
NTSB said that tailwinds and turbulence were likely the reasons it lost control.
A lawsuit that arose from that accident ended in a $100 million landmark judgment in January.
Jonathan Udall’s parents sued Papillon Airways Inc., the company that owned the aircraft and the manufacturer Airbus Helicopters SAS.
A Nevada court ruled that Papillon Airways would $24.6 million to Udall’s parents and Airbus Helicopter to pay $75 million.
The lawsuit argued that the helicopter was not safe for flight because it did not have a crash-resistant fuel system, which made it burst into flames after crashing.
“The Udall family wants to shine a spotlight on this issue so the industry will take note and voluntarily seek to correct this public health issue. a lawyer for the Udalls told the Associated Press
“They don’t want anyone else to go through what their son went through in an otherwise survivable accident — not a broken bone. He would have walked away.”
The Guardian (Nigeria)