A French politician who was one of the world’s richest people has died in a helicopter crash in northwestern France, authorities said.
Olivier Dassault, the 69-year-old heir of the family-owned Dassault Group, which makes Falcon private jets and Rafale fighter planes, died Sunday along with a pilot when an Airbus AS350 helicopter crashed just after takeoff from a private airfield in the town of Touques in Normandy, authorities said.
Investigators were traveling to the site Monday and a judicial inquiry for eventual manslaughter charges was underway, the Associated Press reported, citing the regional prosecutor’s office.
Dassault, a conservative who has served in France’s lower house of parliament since 2002, was listed as one of Forbes magazine’s top 500 richest people in 2020. He was tied for 335th at the time. Dassault’s net worth as of Monday was listed at $7.2 billion, Forbes reported.
Dassault, one of four children who inherited his father’s fortune in 2018, was the president of strategy and development of the family-controlled aerospace and software firm. Dassault’s grandfather, Marcel, founded Dassault Aviation, which began producing propellers in World War I.
The family’s empire also includes one of country’s oldest daily newspapers, Le Figaro, vineyards and a private aeronautic company, according to Forbes.
The cause of the crash, which occurred near where the tycoon had a holiday home, was not immediately clear, The Guardian reported.
President Emmanuel Macron said Dassault’s tragic death was a “great loss” for France.
“Olivier Dassault loved France,” Macron tweeted. “As a business leader, MP, local councilor, a reserve commander in the air force, throughout his life he never ceased to serve our country, to promote what was great about it. His brutal death is a great loss. Our thoughts go out to his family and his friends.”
With Post wires
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