Owner of company making Rafale fighter jets died in helicopter crash

French MP and billionaire Olivier Dassault died in a helicopter crash

French MP and billionaire Olivier Dassault has died in a helicopter crash in north-western France. The accident occurred on Sunday evening in Normandy where he had a holiday home, according to police sources.

Dassault, who was 69, was the son of industrialist Serge Dassault and grandson of Dassault company founder Markel Dassault, whose group builds Rafale war planes and owns Le Figaro newspaper. Olivier Dassault was also an MP in the French parliament.  He was elected to the National Assembly – France’s lower house of parliament – in 2002 and represented the Oise area of northern France. The MP, from the centre-right Republicans, was considered the 361st richest man in the world – worth an estimated €6.3bn ($7.3bn; £5.2bn) according to Forbes. The helicopter carrying Dassault crashed near Deauville at about 18:00 (1700 GMT), sources told. The pilot was also killed, the sources added. No-one else was on board. Investigators with France’s civil aviation authority said in a tweet that the helicopter, an AS350 Écureuil, had crashed “on take-off” from private land. Dassault was the father of three children.

Dassault’s grandfather, Marcel Dassault, founded Dassault Aviation which made aircraft propellers in World War One. On Marcel’s death in 1986, Serge Dassault appointed Olivier director of civil aircraft strategy at the company. In 2011 he was appointed chairman of the supervisory board of Groupe Dassault. Dassault later stepped down from his role on the board to avoid any conflict of interest in his political career.