Daredevil French billionaire politician Olivier Dassault – a member of one of his country’s richest families and the holder of air speed records – dies aged 69 in helicopter crash
- The French billionaire Olivier Dassault has been killed in a helicopter crash
- Politician, 69, had flying over Touques, near Deauville in the Normandy region
- Billionaire was the president of the Frnech aerospace firm Dassault Groupe
- President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the billionaire in a tweet today
A multi-billionaire French MP who set numerous world airspeed records has died in a mysterious helicopter crash in northern France.
Olivier Dassault, 69, who was the eldest son of the late French billionaire Serge Dassault, had been flying over Touques, near Deauville in the Normandy region, when his aircraft went down on Sunday afternoon.
The father-of-three died alongside another man, who has not been identified but who is thought to have been flying the helicopter.
Today French President Emmanuel Macron took to Twitter to salute a man who ‘never ceased to serve our country’ and ‘value its assets’.
French billionaire Olivier Dassault, 69, who was the eldest son of the late French billionaire Serge Dassault, has died in a helicopter crash
In a tweet President Macron said: ‘Olivier Dassault loved France. Captain of industry, deputy, 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. Thoughts on his family and loved ones.’
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
At the time of his death, Mr Dassault’s fortune was thought to exceed the equivalent of €6billion, according to sources in the financial world in Paris.
Mr Dassault had been an MP for the conservative Republicans party since 2002, and was the 361st richest person in the world alongside his two brothers and sister.
Born in 1951 the Parisian suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, he was the eldest son of the late French billionaire Serge Dassault, whose company Dassault Aviation builds the Rafale fighter planes and which also owns the newspaper Le Figaro.
He and his three other siblings later inherited Dassault Aviation, which was founded by Mr Dassault’s grandfather Marcel in 1929.
Marcel, born Marcel Bloch, was a Jewish aviation legend who was captured by the Nazis during the Second World War and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp.
He later changed his name to Dassault, meaning ‘assault tank,’ in honour of his brother’s pseudonym during the war.
His son, Serge Dassault, Olivier Dassault’s father, took over the Paris-based company in 1986.
However in May 2018, Serge died of a heart attack in his Paris at the age of 93 and Olivier became president of the company.
President Macron paid tribute to the politician in a tweet today and said he ‘never ceased to serve our country’ and ‘value its assets’
Olivier Dassault ((left with his father Serge Dassault) was the eldest son of the late French billionaire Serge Dassault
The billionaire (pictured with wife Natacha Nikolajevic) served as a member of the National Assembly since 2002
Olivier graduated from the air force academy – École de l’Air- in 1974 before going on to qualify as an instrument flight rules (IFR) pilot in 1975.
He also held a master’s degree in mathematics as well a doctorate in business management computing.
The lawmaker went on to represent the Oise department in the French National Assembly and was a member of The Republicans party since 2002.
The qualified pilot first set a speed record in a Dassault Falcon 50 flying from New York to Paris in 1977.
There were similar successes in the following decades, including Paris to Abu Dhabi in a Falcon 900 EX in 1996.
Mr Dassault later stepped down as a director of Dassault due to his political role to avoid any conflict of interest.
Mr Dassault first set a speed record in a Dassault Falcon 50 flying from New York to Paris in 1977
The billionaire was once considered favourite to succeed his father as the head of the family business, but the role instead went to former Dassault Aviation CEO Charles Edelstenne.
Today Valerie Pecresse, a conservative politician who is president of the Paris region, tweeted: ‘Great sadness at the news of the sudden disappearance of Olivier Dassault.
‘A businessman, but also a renowned photographer, he had a passion for politics in his blood, rooted in his department of Oise. My warm thoughts to his family.’
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