Olivier Dassault, France's billionaire politician, dies in helicopter crash
Olivier Dassault, a French politician and billionaire, died on Sunday around 6 pm (local time) due to a helicopter crash near Deauville in northern France, multiple reports said. The death of the 69-year-old conservative politician was mourned by French President Emmanuel Macron. Sources close to the investigation told AFP that the pilot also died in the crash. The helicopter didn't have any other occupants.
Who was Olivier Dassault?
Olivier Dassault was the eldest son of Serge Dassault, an industrialist whose group manufactures the Rafale fighter jets and owns the Le Figaro newspaper. His grandfather Marcel Dassault had founded Dassault Aviation and it initially made aircraft propellers during World War I. The Dassault family is one of the richest families in France. Olivier Dassault is believed to have amassed a personal wealth of $7.3 billion.
He was elected to the Lower House in 2002
Olivier Dassault was elected to the Lower House of French Parliament in 2002 from Oise area and remained its representative since then. He had quit his role on the Dassault board after joining politics to avoid conflict of interest. It was reported that he might succeed his father as the head of family holdings, but the position later went to Dassault Aviation's ex-CEO Charles Edelstenne.
Helicopter crashed on take-off: French agency
The helicopter which was carrying Olivier Dassault was an AS350 Écureuil. The French Air Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA) said the aircraft met with the fateful crash "on take-off from the private land." Five investigators from the agency were sent to the site. Expressing grief over the incident, Macron said, "Olivier Dassault loved France." His death is a great loss, the President added.
He never ceased to serve our country: Macron
Olivier Dassault aimait la France. Capitaine d’industrie, député, élu local, commandant de réserve dans l’armée de l’air : sa vie durant, il ne cessa de servir notre pays, d’en valoriser les atouts. Son décès brutal est une grande perte. Pensées à sa famille et à ses proches.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) March 7, 2021
Politicians remembered his contributions, extended condolences to family
Justice Minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti, tweeted, "The Republic has lost one of its great servants," he wrote. Remembering Olivier Dassault, Valerie Pecresse, a conservative politician, tweeted, "A businessman, but also a renowned photographer, he had a passion for politics in his blood." "I am thinking of his family and loved ones who must feel terrible pain," said President of National Assembly, Richard Ferrand.