During a scenic charter flight and while operating at low level, the pilot of a Kavanagh Balloons E‑210 hot-air balloon, registered VH-OTZ, was unable to arrest the balloon's descent and initiate a climb in time to avoid powerlines, requiring an emergency descent and landing. The balloon landed hard in a paddock with the basket not orientated correctly to the direction of flight. It bounced, dragged and inverted along a distance of 60 m, resulting in injuries to the occupants and minor damage to the basket.
The investigation identified a minor safety issue, in that the procedural and guidance framework for commercial balloon operations generally did not provide a high level of assurance in regard to the safe conduct of low flying. Action by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority will, once in place, adequately address that safety issue. In addition, the operator of the balloon revised the content of its operations manual.