Reality television personality Matt Wright will be charged with a string of offences within hours over a helicopter crash that tragically killed one of his best mates earlier this year.
An arrest warrant was issued for The Outback Wrangler star on Monday, following an extensive police investigation into the crash that killed his co-star Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson, 34, in February.
Mr Wilson died when a chopper he was travelling in crashed at Arnhem land. A second chopper carrying three men, including Mr Wright, 43, immediately flew to the scene.
It’s alleged that the trio interfered with evidence at the crash site in an attempt to perverse the course of justice.
Reality television personality Matt Wright was spotted boarding a business class flight to Darwin on Tuesday morning
Daily Mail Australia pictured Mr Wright placing his luggage in the business class overhead compartment on board Qantas Flight 840 from Sydney to Darwin on Tuesday morning, a day after detectives issued the arrest warrant and gave him a 48-hour deadline to present himself to a Northern Territory police station.
Flight QF840 left Sydney at 8.15 am and is expected to land in Darwin shortly before 11.30 am.
He will be charged with at least six offences, including perverting the course of justice, destruction of evidence, fabricating evidence, interfering with witnesses, unlawful entry and making a false statement.
Mr Wright has since strenuously denied any wrongdoing over what he described as a tragic accident.
Matt Wright was spotted at Sydney Airport on Tuesday morning, a day after NT Police issued an arrest warrant
Mr Wilson was collecting crocodile eggs in a remote area of west Arnhem Land when the Robinson R44 helicopter he was hanging 30 metres below collided with trees and the ground in west Arnhem Land.
His body was found 40m from the main wreckage at the King River crash site, a preliminary Air Transport Safety Bureau report revealed in April.
The father of two was attached to a line using a harness so he could harvest eggs from crocodile nests in swampy areas while the helicopter hovered above.
Pilot Sebastian Robinson was seriously injured in the crash and is still recovering from spinal injuries.
The R44 Raven II registered VH-IDW Mr Robinson was flying had been operated by Mr Wright’s company Helibrook.
Police will allege Mr Wright tampered with evidence when he rushed to the crash site in another helicopter.
It’s understood minutes before the crash that claimed his life, Mr Wilson took a photo of the fuel gauge showing the chopper’s almost full tank, which he then shared in a WhatsApp group chat.
Mr Wilson’s mobile phone then allegedly went missing from the crash site, The Australian reported.
The photo of the fuel gauge contradicts the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s preliminary report, which revealed that investigators only drained about 250ml of blue fuel from the main tank’s bladder after the crash despite the two fuel bladder tanks still being intact.
Police will also allege Wright regularly disconnected the hoursmeter in the VH-IDW and other helicopters used by his company and ordered other staff to do the same.
An hoursmetre is a device used in aviation to measure the time an aircraft is in use.
Matt Wright was accompanied by his wife Kaia, who was cradling their 10-day-old daughter
The Outback Wrangler star will be charged over the helicopter crash that killed his close mate and co-star Chris “Willow’ Wilson (pictured)
Police will also allege Mr Wright visited Mr Robinson in the hospital twice after the crash to try to get him to falsify records relating to the helicopter involved in the crash and to delete evidence from his mobile phone.
Sources told the publication Mr Wright was not on the egg collection mission that ended tragically because he was not vaccinated against Covid-19.
It’s understood photos provided to police by tourists who had travelled in the helicopter revealed that the chopper had been in use on days when information provided to CASA indicated it had not been flying.
It’s understood police have spent at least six months investigating Mr Wright’s actions before and after the fatal crash.
Helicopter pilot Michael Burbidge and Mr Mellon were previously charged with various offences in relation to the crash.
Matt Wright (pictured with wife Kaia) is expected to present himself to a Darwin police station on Tuesday
A spokesman for Mr Wright told Daily Mail Australia on Monday the star strenuously denies any wrongdoing over what he described as a tragic accident.
‘What happened was a tragic accident that took the life of a close mate,’ the spokesman said.
‘His immediate concern following the accident was the condition of the two team members on board at the time.
‘The next priority was ensuring the other helicopters and team members at the site weren’t at risk and that the location was safe.
‘Matt will not be making any further statement.
The warrant comes days after Wright’s wife Kaia welcomed the birth of their second child, a daughter Dusty Faith on November 18.
The couple had recently relocated from the Northern Territory to the Gold Coast.
Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson (pictured) died in February when the helicopter he was hanging from collided with trees and crashed in west Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory
Matt Wright will be charged following an extensive police investigation in relation to the crash (pictured) that killed his co-star Chris ‘Willow’ Wilson
Mr Wright recently made his first public comments about the fatal crash and how he still struggles to speak about the death of his close mate.
‘It’s still pretty fresh,’ Wright told express.co.uk. ‘Maybe in time, you know… I’ll explain.’
The crocodile wrangler claimed his friends were ‘out doing another job with another pilot’.
‘Unfortunately, the machine went down and Willow was killed in the process. So, it’s taken a horrible toll this year.’
A preliminary Australian Transport Safety Bureau analysis of the site earlier this year indicated the accident happened when the helicopter’s main rotor blade struck and cut through a tree trunk multiple times before the aircraft hit the ground.
Initial assessments indicated the engine had stopped prior to the helicopter hitting the ground.
An examination found no defects likely to cause the engine to stop and there was no visible damage to the tail rotor blades and drive system.
Matt Wright (left), pictured with wife Kaia and son Banjo has been ordered to present to a police station in Darwin by 9am Wednesday
It was also understood the chopper was certified by independent aviation experts as safe to operate just weeks before the crash.
The ATSB’s final report, due to be published at the end of the year, has been delayed.
The results of the report are expected to be released in the first quarter of next year while NT Police investigations are ongoing.
Wright became a household name more than a decade ago as the star of National Geographic Channel series Outback Wrangler, which has since been aired in almost 100 countries.
His new series Wild Croc Territory aired on Channel Nine earlier this year and has since been screened on Netflix with a second series planned for 2023.
Matt Wright (right) recently the death of Mr Wilson (centre) was ‘still pretty fresh’. The pair were cast members on the Outback Wrangler TV series with Jono Brown (left)