Olivier Dassault
Olivier Dassault (front row, second from the left) at the 2019 Paris Air Show alongside French President Emmanuel Macron (center) and Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier (second from the right). (Photo: Dassault Aviation/X Bejot)

Olivier Dassault Killed in Helicopter Accident

The grandson of Dassault founder Marcel Dassault died in an Airbus AS350B single when it crashed soon after takeoff.

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.

According to police reports in French media outlets, the pilot, who has not yet been named, also died in the accident, which occurred at 5:50 p.m. local time. 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. The latest Dassault Aviation financial statement, published March 5, lists Olivier Dassault 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 owning 9.9 percent.

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Dassault, a graduate of the French air force academy, held a pilot’s license and set a number of speed records in Falcon jets between 1977 and 1996. His other business interests included 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.

French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Jean Castex, and Defense Minister Florence Parly have posted messages of condolence.