Sunday, 17 February, 2019

NTSB Recommends New Rules For Hot Air Balloon Pilots After Deadly Crash

The National Transportation and Safety Board is recommending that hot air balloon pilots have the same medical certification needed to fly planes and helicopters in the U.S NTSB Recommends New Rules For Hot Air Balloon Pilots After Deadly Crash
Melissa Porter | 18 October, 2017, 22:26

The National Transportation Safety board on Tuesday faulted US aviation regulators and the pilot in the July 2016 Texas balloon crash that killed 16 people, the deadliest USA aviation accident in more than seven years. The AP has reported that balloon pilots now are only required to write a statement certifying that they have "no medical defect" that would limit their ability to pilot a balloon.

Nichols and 15 others were killed when the balloon struck high voltage power lines and crashed into a field near Austin.

Had a medical certificate been required, the FAA would also have had an opportunity to identify the pilot's history of drug- and alcohol-related traffic offenses, the NTSB said.

In July, the FAA said its investigation found the pilot made a series of errors during the flight, had numerous disqualifying medical conditions and was under influence of drugs at the time of the crash.

Investigators found that depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the combined effects of multiple central nervous system-impairing drugs likely affected the pilot's ability to make safe decisions.

The National Transport Safety Board (NTSB), has revealed that the worst #Balloon accident in U.S. history, was caused by the #Pilot being under the influence of a combination of drugs that impaired his judgment, according to its findings which were released on Tuesday.

Currently, the FAA exempts commercial balloon pilots from medical certification.

Sumwalt said the FAA's embrace of industry-led, voluntary safety reforms and rejection of NTSB recommendations was "sad".

The hearing comes after the Federal Aviation Administration said earlier this year no new balloon regulations were needed, despite a long-standing push by the board to require more oversight of the operations. "Balloon pilots, their passengers, and their passengers' loved ones deserve no less". A toxicology report found Nichols had ingested a "witches brew" of prohibited medications, including oxycodone and Valium.

State Rep. John Cyrier, a Lockhart Republican, told the American-Statesman last week he believes the safety board will recommend that commercial balloon pilots be required to undergo the same periodic medical checks that helicopter and airplane pilots must get.

The agency says it's being forced to take action following a deadly 2016 balloon crash in Texas.

Check back for updates throughout the day.