The essentials Deputy Olivier Dassault, son of Serge Dassault, died this Sunday, March 7th, around 6 p.m. when his helicopter crashed near Deauville in Calvados. He was 69 years old. Prosecutors announced that they had opened a judicial investigation into manslaughter.
Deputy and industrial captain Olivier Dassault, son of Serge Dassault, died on Sunday evening at the age of 69 when his helicopter crashed in Touques near Deauville in Calvados.
Who was Olivier Dassault?
Forbes magazine ranked Olivier Dassault as the 361st global net worth in 2020 tied to his two brothers and sisters at around € 5 billion each. After the death of his grandfather Marcel Dassault in 1986, his father Serge appointed him deputy director of Europe Falcon Service and director of civil aircraft strategy for Dassault Aviation, which manufactures aircraft. Rafale fighter jets and Falcon business jets.
In 2011 he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Dassault Group, which earned him a good position to one day take over the family holding company. Seven years later, a few months before his father’s death, he announced his decision to step down from the chairmanship of the family holding’s supervisory board “because of incompatibility with his deputy mandate”. However, his mandate as director of Dassault Aviation was extended by four years in May 2019. Olivier Dassault has been a member of the Oise since 2002.
The helicopter crash
According to sources close to the investigation, the accident occurred at the start around 6 p.m. in Touques, 5 km east of Deauville. Likewise, no one else was on board the helicopter.
Investigators from the Civil Aviation Security Bureau of Investigation and Analysis will be on site on Monday. The BEA said in a tweet that the plane, an Aérospatiale AS350 Écureuil, crashed “on take-off”, “from private land”. A security area had been set up around the carcass of the plane.
u26a0 ufe0f Fatal accident of a helicopter @airbusheli # AS350 that occurred today in #Touques / Accident while taking off from private land / @BEA_Aero initiates a safety investigation.
– BEA u2708 ufe0f ud83d ude81 ud83d udee9 ud83c uddeb ud83c uddf7 (@BEA_Aero) March 7, 2021
According to a witness to the accident, the helicopter had made an “atypical start,” we learned from the public prosecutor on Monday. The witness, a friend of Olivier Dassault, who was on the private property where the tragedy occurred, “tells us that the take-off maneuver is atypical in that it does not take off at a 90-degree angle,” said AFP Delphine Mienniel , Public Prosecutor of Lisieux.
A blade of the device that “was not new” “hit a tree,” said the prosecutor. The launch was approved, according to the same source. The few residents in the neighborhood who agreed to answer AFP’s questions all reported a major “explosion”. “It made a thud. We were afraid for our little one. It freaked us out,” said a resident who lives almost across from the scene of the tragedy. He asked for anonymity.
Manslaughter investigation opened
The public prosecutor’s office in Lisieux in Calvados confiscated the investigation department of the aviation gendarmerie and announced that they had opened a judicial investigation into manslaughter. “We’re opening a judicial investigation into manslaughter. I’m there, it’s dark. Technical investigations won’t start until tomorrow. We are taking action on the bodies,” said Delphine Mienniel, Lisieux prosecutor.
Sadness and astonishment in the political class
Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the LR MP, who, like the pilot of the plane, was killed in the accident. “Olivier Dassault loved France. Captain of the industry, deputy, locally-elected reserve commander of the Air Force: in his entire life he has never stopped serving our country to raise his fortune. His brutal death is a great loss,” the head of state tweeted.
Olivier Dassault loved France. Captain of the industry, deputy, elected locally, reserve commander of the Air Force: in his whole life he has never stopped serving our country in order to develop his fortune. His sudden death is a great loss. Thoughts of his family and loved ones.
– Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) March 7, 2021
Prime Minister Jean Castex welcomed “a humanist MP, a visionary entrepreneur, a man deeply committed to his country, an artist with elegant boldness”.
A humanistic MP, a visionary entrepreneur, a man who is deeply committed to his country, an artist with elegant boldness: Olivier Dassault too.
He will be missed by everyone who, like him, loved France very much.
In thoughts with his family and loved ones.
– Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) March 7, 2021
“I think of his family and loved ones, who must be in terrible pain,” said the President of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand. His Senate counterpart, Gérard Larcher, said he was “very touched by the sudden disappearance” of a “recognized businessman and active and committed deputy”.
Very touched by the sudden disappearance of Olivier Dassault, a recognized entrepreneur and active and committed MP. I would like to express my condolences to his family
– Gérard Larcher (@gerard_larcher) March 7, 2021
“Our region is losing a great servant,” tweeted Xavier Bertrand, President (ex-LR) of Hauts-de-France.
Deeply saddened by @ ODassault’s accidental death. MP, industrialist, press representative, photographer, composer … He had several lifetimes as a lover of life. Our region is losing a great servant. My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. pic.twitter.com/PbdNrx6I1O
– Xavier Bertrand (@xavierbertrand) March 7, 2021
The head of the LR MPs, Damien Abad, welcomed an “outstanding business leader, a generous MP and a great defender of the industry” whose “friendliness and humanism will forever remain in our memory”.
Olivier Dassault, an unparalleled business leader, generous MP and great defender of the industry, is sorely missed. His kindness and humanism will forever be remembered. On behalf of the members of the LR group, I direct my thoughts to his family.
– Damien Abad (@damienabad) March 7, 2021
“I’m in shock. Today I’m losing a friend,” replied the mayor of Beauvais, Caroline Cayeux, who was with him last Friday when Prime Minister Jean Castex came to Beauvais.
I am shocked by the disappearance of #OlivierDassault, who died in a helicopter crash.
Today I am losing a friend.
France is losing a great man and a great industrialist. Olivier was a man who was close to people and listened to them. I know how much he appreciated this pic.twitter.com/rrqsrNakJU
– Caroline Cayeux (@carolinecayeux) March 7, 2021