Carterton Ballooning Tragedy, Urgent Checks Follow Air Worthiness Concerns

The Civil Aviation Authority has recommended urgent checks of all hot air balloons in New Zealand  after an inquiry revealed possible air worthiness problems.

The inquiry was launched after 11 people were killed in a hot air balloon fire in Carterton last month. Read blog Balloon Clips Powerlines, 11 People Killed In Fireball.

According to a report in today’s Stuff headed Carterton tragedy Balloon airworthiness questioned

“The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched an urgent inquiry following “serious” findings of a report into the Carterton balloon tragedy.

The balloon, which crashed in Carterton on January 7 killing 11 all people on board, might not have been airworthy, investigators found.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has released preliminary findings showing several maintenance requirements were not followed by those operating the balloon, including procedures for inspecting the balloon’s burners and fuel system, and a “grab test” to test the strength of the balloon material.

As a result TAIC has recommended that Civil Aviation make an urgent check of New Zealand’s 74 hot air balloons to test for airworthiness…”   read the full article here

Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who died, this must be a very difficult time for them.

Until all hot air balloons in New Zealand have been checked to ensure they meet maintenance requirements our recommendation is to postpone or cancel your ballooning experience.

If the transport Accident Investigation Commission chief commissioner John Marshall, QC wouldn’t get into a balloon whose maintenance requirements hadn’t been met, why would you?

The CAA said it had launched an investigation into the maintenance of hot air balloons in the wake of the TAIC report.

“The apparent breaches of the manufacturer’s procedures and the civil aviation rules are obviously sufficiently serious for us to make a recommendation,” Marshall said.

If he was a passenger and knew about the breaches, he would not have been willing to continue the flight.

“If I had known as a person about to get into a balloon that maintenance requirements had not been complied with, obviously, personally, I wouldn’t get into that balloon.”

Earlier, acting director of Civil Aviation John Lanham said the findings of the report were very serious.

Find a safer way to enjoy New Zealand, and never assume that the safety standards that apply in your own country also apply there.

For more about  New Zealand’s record for adventure tourism ‘accidents’  read our Adventure Tourism and Safety page.