Balloon checks

Seamus Boyer at Stuff reports:

Balloonists have rejected as “unnecessary” calls for an urgent maintenance review of all hot-air balloons after an investigation into the Carterton disaster.

The investigation found the balloon should not have been in the air on January 7, when it crashed killing all 11 people in it.

The burners and LPG fuel system had not been correctly inspected, the balloon material had not been properly strength-tested, and a safety logbook was left incomplete, preliminary findings from the Transport Accident Investigation Commission show.

Though it is not yet known if these oversights caused the crash, they meant the balloon may have been in breach of Civil Aviation Authority standards, and therefore not “airworthy”.

The commission has recommended that the CAA make urgent checks on the maintenance of all 74 balloons in the country – a move that balloon operators have labelled as unnecessary and “knee-jerk”. …

Balloon Aviation Association president Martyn Stacey described the recommendation as a “knee-jerk reaction”.

“I’m getting calls from balloonists all over the country worrying if their balloons are safe. They’re saying it might have an effect on customers, and that is a worry.”

Ummm I think 11 people dying is what has had the effect on customers, and made people worry about whether their balloons are safe. I certainly would never fly in a balloon again in NZ, until the full report from the accident investigators is known, and I am confident any factors in the crash could not occur elsewhere.

The Balloon Aviation Association should see the recommendation as an opportunity to restore confidence in their industry, rather than an attitude of “We’re all right Jack”.

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