Outback Wrangler star hit with workplace charges after chopper crash

Outback Wrangler star hit with workplace charges after chopper crash

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Matt Wright, the Outback Wrangler star whose friend and co-star Chris “Willow” Wilson was killed in a 2022 helicopter crash, has been charged with reckless conduct for operating allegedly unsafe aircraft.

NT WorkSafe said while there is insufficient evidence to lay charges over the crash “at this point in time”, it charged Wright and his helicopter company Helibrook with breaches of work health and safety laws.

It alleges Wright and Helibrook failed to maintain safe aircraft and allowed the aircraft to be flown even though they were unsafe.

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Matt Wright outside Darwin Local Court. December 7, 2023.

“NT WorkSafe’s investigation has found sufficient evidence to allege Helibrook Pty Ltd and Mr Wright 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,” it said in a statement this afternoon.

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“This included interfering with the Hobbs Meters, which records the time an aircraft is in use, (and) not accurately recording flight times in the aircraft’s maintenance release, a key document to the safe operation of an aircraft.

“NT WorkSafe alleges this conduct would have impacted the regular inspection and replacement of the aircraft’s life-limited components that may have been critical to the airworthiness of the aircraft, therefore placing at risk the health and safety of the pilots and passengers each time aircraft from the Helibrook fleet was used.”

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Both Wright and Helibrook have been charged with two counts of reckless conduct for failing their duties under the Work Health and Safety Act.

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Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright arrives at Darwin Airport on Tuesday.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) “no-blame” report into the crash that killed Wilson and seriously injured pilot Sebastian Robinson found it was caused by fuel running out while Wilson was collecting crocodile eggs from a slingline.

It also found the helicopter operator wasn’t using its safety management system while Wilson was being carried 20 metres above ground on the slingline, and that it had a “history of non-compliance with regulatory requirements”.

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Wright disputed that conclusion, reiterating a safety management plan was in place, saying there “always has” been safety systems in place.

Wright is one of three men who were charged over what prosecutors allege was an attempt to derail an investigation into the crash.

He has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the matter.

Late last year, Wilson’s widow Danielle began suing Helibrook and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) over the crash.

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