• Monday, March 04, 2024
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What to know about the Eurocopter EC 130 helicopter involved in crash leading to Wigwe’s death


On Friday night, a Eurocopter EC 130 helicopter transporting Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Holdings crashed and killed him as well as five others in California.

Sources said the chopper was headed to Las Vegas when it crashed near a border city between Nevada and California on Friday night.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a helicopter crashed Friday night near Nipton, California, with six people on board

As of Saturday morning, no survivors had been found, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

“We were made aware of a downed aircraft at approximately 10:12 p.m., on February 10, 2024. The scene of the crash was determined to be east of the 15-Freeway, near Halloran Springs Road,” the sheriff’s department said.

The FAA identified the helicopter as a Eurocopter EC 130.

About Eurocopter EC130

The Eurocopter EC130 is a single engine light utility helicopter developed from the earlier Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil, one of the primary changes from which was the adoption of a Fenestron anti-torque device in place of a conventional tail rotor.

It was launched and produced by the Eurocopter Group, which would later be rebranded as Airbus Helicopters.


The EC130 was designed with various avionics and safety features, including flight data recorders, crash-worthy seats, and redundant flight systems for greater reliability; the EC130 T2 had further safety features installed.

The cockpit instrumentation is being described as”straightforward” and the control response as “tight and pleasant”. Piloting aids such as the Vehicle and Engine Multifunction Display (VEMD) is claimed to reduced pilot workload, thereby increasing ease-of-use and overall safety.

Dependent on customer demand and role, tactical instrumentation and equipment consoles may also be installed in the cockpit. Typically the cockpit is configured for single pilot operations, the pilot being seated on the left-hand side of the forward cabin to reduce the risk of passenger interference with the controls posed by a right-hand position; dual controls can be optionally installed.

The EC130 is equipped with integrated visual flight rules (VFR) equipment coupled to a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, making it readily capable of flight under both day and night conditions.


In 2007, it was reported that the strongest demands for the EC130 and other such single-engine helicopters has come from Latin American and North American markets.

By May 2008, the EC130 had overtaken the Bell 206 as the best-selling single-engine rotorcraft on the market.

In 2012, Flight International referred to the EC130 as being one of Eurocopter’s best-selling rotorcraft, noting that 238 orders had been placed in 2011, a 40 per cent increase over the previous year.

In 2007, an EC130 was used as a test aircraft in a large-scale flight test campaign to trial new noise-minimising (both externally and internally) flight procedures through the typical flight envelope, including during take-off, approach, and while at cruise.

In February 2008, it was announced that aerial tour operator Maverick Helicopters’ fleet of 28 EC130s, the largest single operator in the world, had accumulated a combined total of 60,000 flight hours.

By March 2015, Maverick’s fleet was officially recognised as having attained 300,000 flying hours. Maverick also served as the launch customer for the improved EC130 T2.

By 2015, Airbus Helicopters reported that the EC130 was in service with 279 operators and had accumulated more than 1,177,000 total flight hours worldwide.

In February 2016, Indonesian industrial estate developer Jababeka signed a memorandum of understanding for up to 12 H130s for an intercity shuttle service

Notable accidents and incidents

On 2 January 2023, two EC130B4s operated by Sea World Helicopters collided in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, killing four people and injuring eight.

In February 2018, a EC130B4 operated by Papillon Airways crashed in the Grand Canyon, killing five people. Due to strong winds, the helicopter spun out of control and crashed as it came in to land. Three people died immediately, two more died in hospital as a result of burns sustained during the crash.

The deaths were found to be the result of a non-crash-resistant fuel tank that was ruptured on impact.

In January 2024, a Nevada judge awarded a £79 million ($100 million) settlement to the family of the British couple killed in the Grand Canyon crash. The settlement consisted of $75.4 million (£59.3 million) from Airbus Helicopters SAS and £19.4 million ($24.6 million) from Papillon Airways.

Following the accident it is now required all helicopter fuel tanks are shielded from fuel tank rupture on impact.