French MP and billionaire Olivier Dassault dies in 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.

In his tribute, President Emmanuel Macron said Dassault, 69, loved France and his death would be „a great loss“.

Dassault was the son of industrialist Serge Dassault, whose group builds Rafale war planes and owns Le Figaro newspaper.

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.

„Olivier Dassault loved France. Captain of industry, lawmaker, local elected official, reserve commander in the air force: during his life, he never ceased to serve our country, to value its assets. His sudden death is a great loss,“ Mr Macron said on Twitter.

The helicopter carrying Dassault crashed near Deauville at about 18:00 (1700 GMT), sources told AFP news agency. 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.

Richard Ferrand, president of the National Assembly, said: „I am thinking of his family and loved ones who must feel terrible pain.“

Valerie Pecresse, a conservative politician, tweeted: „Great sadness at the news of the sudden passing of Olivier Dassault. A businessman, but also a renowned photographer, he had a passion for politics in his blood.“

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.

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