Gliding through the sky in a hot air balloon is like a fantasy for some. People will gladly pay high fees for a few moments of rising above the earth and floating peacefully over civilization. However, an aviation accident involving a hot air balloon seems to be a more frequent occurrence lately. A recent balloon tragedy in Texas has stirred up an old disagreement between two government agencies responsible for the safety of travelers.
Two years ago, the National Transportation Safety Board warned the Federal Aviation Administration that government standards needed to be placed over operators of balloon tour companies. In its report, the NTSB cited a recent balloon accident in Egypt that took the lives of 19 people, as well as three other hot air balloon accidents they investigated. The agency identified deficiencies, such as pilots who did not follow basic flight procedures or operated tours in dangerous weather conditions. They called for more regulation, beginning with alcohol and drug testing.
The FAA rejected the recommendations. They argued that, unlike the daily flights of planes and helicopters, balloon flights are less common, so the risk of accidents is much lower. Additionally, the FAA felt that people who participate in balloon tours accept the risk of danger.
Nevertheless, the NTSB now has the grim task of investigating the deaths of the 16 people in Texas who died recently when their balloon hit a power line and crashed to the ground in flames. It is likely that the families of some of these victims will be contacting an attorney for guidance in seeking compensation for their losses. An attorney who is experienced in the investigation of an aviation accident will examine the facts to determine if any negligence contributed to the demise of the flight.
Source: dallasnews.com, “FAA was warned of risk for high-fatality balloon crashes”, Ralph Berrera, July 30, 2016