Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
29 February 2012
For further information contact:
Senior Communications Adviser, Emma Peel
Tel: 04 560 9646, or 027 272 3545
CAA requires checks of 16 hot-air balloons
The Civil Aviation Authority has completed its initial investigation into the maintenance of hot-air balloons. Investigators have contacted all five active hot-air balloon maintainers to seek assurance that safety standards are being met.
In the majority of cases, the CAA has been satisfied that practices are at or above the required minimum safety standards. In one case, however, the Director of Civil Aviation, Steve Douglas has determined that further investigation is warranted.
“Early indications are that in one case, not all maintenance practices have been followed according to the required standard.
“For example, tests of the strength and porosity of the balloon envelope have not been conducted using the equipment and techniques specified in the maintenance manual, and the engineer has relied upon individual experience and judgement instead.
“Accordingly, I have directed the CAA investigation to continue in more depth, and this will be the basis of any further safety action.
“In the meantime, the 16 hot-air balloons maintained by this party will be rechecked to remove any uncertainty regarding their airworthiness,” Mr Douglas said.
Concerns about balloon maintenance were raised during the Transport Accident Investigation Commission’s (TAIC) examination of the hot-air balloon accident near Carterton earlier this year in which 11 people died.
It said a strength test on the balloon’s envelope and a fuel system inspection were not done correctly, and documentation was incomplete.
“TAIC has not determined whether or not maintenance issues were a factor in the accident.
“However, the CAA must be assured that all participants carrying out activities in the civil aviation system do so safely and in accordance with prescribed safety requirements,” Mr Douglas said.
“The CAA will complete its investigations of balloon maintenance activity and take action as necessary to ensure the safety of the public.”
NOTE: Steve Douglas will be available to speak to this press release for a short time today at 3pm at the CAA’s Wellington offices, Level 15, Asteron Centre, 55 Featherston St, Wellington.