Co-star’s widow suing Matt Wright’s chopper company

Neve Brissenden |

Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright is being sued by the widow of his late co-star Chris Wilson.
Outback Wrangler star Matt Wright is being sued by the widow of his late co-star Chris Wilson.

The widow of a Netflix personality who died on a crocodile egg-hunting mission is suing his co-star’s helicopter company and the aviation regulator.

Chris Wilson plunged to his death in a remote area of the Northern Territory in February last year while attached to a helicopter owned by Outback Wrangler co-star Matt Wright.

Mr Wilson left behind his widow Danielle Wilson and pilot Sebastian Robinson, who was critically injured.

On Tuesday, Ms Wilson filed an application in the Federal Court regarding the 2022 crash in Arnhem Land.

Wright’s helicopter company, Helibrook, and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) are the respondents listed.

A chopper wreck
Chris Wilson, 34, plunged to his death while attached to a helicopter in a remote area of the NT. (HANDOUT/AUSTRALIAN TRANSPORT SAFETY BUREAU)

It comes barely a month after an Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation found the chopper’s engine stopped mid-flight due to a lack of fuel and that during the emergency landing, Mr Robinson released the hooks and sling line before crashing to the ground.

The investigation made damning findings against CASA, which granted Helibrook an exemption to collect crocodile eggs using slings that were otherwise banned.

By 2017, most safety conditions limiting height, speed and exposure were removed by CASA, meaning Mr Wilson could be attached to the helicopter up to 30 metres.

The ATSB also made findings against  Wright, with the report saying his helicopter company had a “long history of noncompliance” and the chopper had several engine defects.

Wright took to social media at the time to express his surprise at the findings.

“I was devastated at the time when he was killed and I’m double devastated to find out that the helicopter ran out of fuel while he was in the sling,” Wright said in a tearful video.

The bureau also found the pilot’s exposure to cocaine in the previous days increased the likelihood of fatigue and inattention, but there was insufficient evidence to determine if he was affected at the time.

Wright said he would never have let Mr Robinson fly the chopper if he knew about the drug use.

Wright and his pilot Michael Burbidge were allegedly first on the scene of the crash, accompanied by former senior police officer Neil Mellon.

The three men were all later charged with perverting the course of justice and destroying evidence.

They remain before the courts, with Wright saying he strenuously denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

Wright is set to return to court on Thursday for a preliminary mention of the criminal charges. 

The civil charges in the Federal Court will likely not be heard until next year.

Outback Wrangler was an adventure TV series filmed in remote Top End locations and screened in more than 90 countries.

The show chronicled the capture and transport of dangerous animals that posed a threat to people, including crocodiles and wild buffalo.