‘Problem’ of pilot in crashed balloon
DUBAI // The pilot of a hot-air balloon that crashed in the desert had a personal problem that contributed to the accident, an inquiry has found.
Thirteen passengers sustained minor injuries in the crash and one had to be treated in hospital for a serious ankle injury.
The balloon, operated by Sinbad Gulf Balloon, had been on a sightseeing flight in Margham, Dubai, on February 15 with a pilot and 20 passengers aboard.
It was nearing the end of its flight when it touched down once, then climbed to about 16 metres before “descending uncontrollably” into a hard landing, the report by the General Civil Aviation Authority said.
The report said the contributing factors included a personal problem of the pilot who, a day before the flight, had requested leave to deal with the matter.
It said the pilot was probably distracted by his problems and lost “situational awareness, especially in the landing phase”.
The pilot also did not abort the landing when the balloon began to climb after the initial touchdown.
Many of the passengers did not sit properly for landing, which contributed to their injuries, the report found. It said the balloon was airworthy, certified and properly equipped and maintained.
The authority encouraged pilots to report any problems that could affect their work. It also recommended installing video cameras on balloons and standardising safety manual instructions.
Sinbad Gulf Balloon was also asked to ensure there were enough certified pilots for its fleet.
Updated: September 26, 2016 04:00 AM