Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
Date 10 May 2012

CAA RELEASE

For further information contact:

Senior Communications Adviser, Emma Peel
Tel: 04 560 9646, or 027 272 3545
Email: emma.peel@caa.govt.nz

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Update: CAA ballooning safety examination

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has today released its interim report into the hot air balloon accident at Carterton in which 11 people were killed.

The commission’s report contains no analysis or findings as to the cause of the accident, but refers to a recommendation made to the CAA early in the investigation that balloon maintenance procedures should be rechecked.

This followed TAIC’s discovery that maintenance procedures on the Carterton balloon had not been precisely followed, or fully documented.

Chief Executive of the CAA and Director of Civil Aviation Graeme Harris says the CAA announced in February that balloon maintenance practices were in all but one case either at or above the required level.

“The CAA at that time agreed with TAIC that there were some discrepancies with the practice of the engineer who had worked on the Carterton balloon, and his ability to inspect and sign-off work was suspended while a closer investigation was carried out.

“While no significant safety failures were identified, the company has been required to address administrative and record keeping deficiencies and will be subject to ongoing audit and inspection,” Mr Harris said.

“At the same time, the 16 balloons that had been worked on by the engineer were rechecked. All found to be airworthy.”

“Since the accident, the rules covering the commercial ballooning sector have changed dramatically, allowing closer oversight by the CAA, and demanding higher standards from operators who wish to carry fare-paying passengers,” Mr Harris said.

“To date two ballooning companies have achieved this new certification, and two other companies are working toward it.”

“Finally, I am very disappointed by evidence of drug use noted in recent TAIC reports. The CAA will follow the Ministry of Transport’s lead on this issue, which advocates an initial action of education campaigns and safety promotion.”

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