Olivier Dassault, 69, a prominent French politician and Dassault Aviation board member, was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday afternoon. French accident investigation agency BEA confirmed that an Airbus AS350B single crashed soon after takeoff from “private grounds” at Touques on the Normandy coast, close to where Dassault reportedly has a home.
According to police reports in various French media outlets, the pilot, who has not yet been named, was also killed in the accident that occurred at 5:50 p.m. local time. Local prosecutors have formally launched an involuntary manslaughter investigation.
The AS350B—registered in France as F-GIMB and owned by BPCE Lease—was part of a fleet operated by Dolijet from a base at La Ferte-Alais, south of Paris. In the latest Dassault Aviation financial statement, published on Friday, Olivier Dassault is listed as chairman of Dolijet.
Besides being a member of the French parliament since 2002, Dassault was on the supervisory board of the Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault holding company, which controls 62.7 percent of shares in Dassault Aviation. Private investors hold 27.44 percent of the business jet and fighter maker’s equity, with Airbus having 9.9 percent.
Having graduated from the French air force academy, he held a pilot’s license and set a number of speed records in various Falcon jets between 1977 and 1996. His other business interests included various media holdings. He was the son of former Dassault chairman and CEO Serge Dassault and grandson of the French aviation group’s founder, Marcel Dassault.
Messages of condolence were posted by French President Emmanuel Macron, prime minister Jean Castex, and defense secretary Florence Parly.