Popular television personality Matt Wright, known for his work as the Outback Wrangler, and his aviation company Helibrook, are facing charges following a tragic helicopter crash that claimed the life of his co-star, Chris ‘Willow‘ Wilson. The crash occurred in a remote area of the Northern Territory in February 2022, with pilot Sebastian Robinson surviving but sustaining critical injuries.
NT WorkSafe, the workplace safety watchdog, announced on Thursday that it has charged Wright and Helibrook with “reckless conduct for operating unsafe aircraft.” Although an official investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the crash, the watchdog has found sufficient evidence suggesting that Wright falsified the flight hours of his aircraft, thereby putting passengers and pilots at risk.
NT WorkSafe stated, “He engaged in conduct intended to falsify the actual number of flight hours accrued by the aircraft in the Helibrook fleet over an extended period of time. This impacted the regular inspection and replacement of the aircraft’s life-limited components, therefore placing at risk the health and safety of the pilots and passengers.” Both Helibrook Pty Ltd and Wright himself are each facing two counts of reckless conduct.
In addition to the charges, Wright is also facing a civil case filed by Danielle Wilson, the widow of Mr. Willow. In her legal claim, she is suing Wright and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for alleged wrongful acts or omissions that contributed to her husband’s death. The federal court documents reveal that she is seeking costs, damages, interest, and other remedies for the psychological harm caused by the incident.
The chopper crash and subsequent charges against Wright and Helibrook have garnered significant attention nationwide. As authorities work to conclude their investigations, the case is scheduled to be heard in the Darwin Local Court later this month. If found guilty, Helibrook Pty Ltd faces a maximum penalty of $6 million, while Wright could face a maximum of $1.2 million in fines, up to five years’ imprisonment, or both.
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