This past July, Texas witnessed the worst hot air balloon accident in the country’s history when 16 people died after their balloon hit a power line and burst into flames. One congressman from Texas took it personally when the Federal Aviation Administration rejected his request for more regulations for the balloon tour industry. He notes that the National Transportation Safety Board made a similar request of the FAA in 2014, warning that a balloon aviation accident was imminent.
According to a letter the FAA sent to the representative, the agency intends to wait for the complete report of the investigation into the deadly balloon crash before making any moves toward stricter regulations. The NTSB has said it may be 16 more months before that report is complete. Meanwhile, the NTSB repeated its own request that the FAA increase regulations of the industry.
Among the changes the congressman would like to see are flight manifests. Many of the victims of the July accident could not immediately be identified because there was no passenger list. In light of the fact that the pilot of that balloon had a record of arrests for DWI and substance abuse, the congressman would like to see balloon pilot standards similar to those of helicopter pilots.
Balloon tour companies should also be required to carry more insurance in case of an aviation accident. The representative says that the $1 million policy carried by the Texas balloon company did not come close to compensating the survivors of the victims of the crash. The attorneys of those families may seek compensation by filing lawsuits against any party deemed responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.
Source: ksat.com, “Doggett: Hot air balloon industry needs oversight; ‘Many lives in danger’“, Isis Romero, Oct. 7, 2016