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On 6 December 2013, a Kavanagh Balloons B-350 balloon registered VH-JDI, was on final approach to land near Broke, New South Wales. At a height of about 50 ft, as the balloon flew over a river and a line of trees, the pilot observed the sun glistening off a power line on the left of the landing area and looked for the poles associated with that power line. The pilot did not observe any other power lines coming off the poles. The pilot instructed the passengers to get into the landing position. The landing area looked to be clear of obstacles. As the balloon came over the end of the tree line the pilot slowly vented the hot air in the envelope to descend to the landing area. The pilot then noticed that there was a pole to the right that had been in the shadows and that a power line stretched horizontally in front of the balloon flight path. The pilot opened the envelope ventilation system so the balloon would descend quicker. The basket touched the ground gently and came to rest just under the power line at about 0630 eastern summer time. The envelope folded over the three power wires and when the wires came together there was a spark. The pilot instructed the passengers to remain in the basket and when he considered that it was safe he exited the basket. The pilot telephoned the electrical company who confirmed that the system was isolated and that a technician would be dispatched. The passengers disembarked the basket. The pilot and 15 passengers were not injured. The balloon envelope had a small area of heat damage to the fabric where it had contacted the power lines.

This serious incident highlights the importance of pre-flight planning, especially when landing at an unfamiliar landing area.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 32

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General details
Date: 06 December 2013 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0630 EDT Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location   (show map):near Broke Occurrence type:Wirestrike 
State: New South Wales Occurrence class: Operational 
Release date: 14 July 2014 Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
Report status: Final Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Kavanagh Balloons 
Aircraft model: B-350 
Aircraft registration: VH-JDI 
Serial number: B350-378 
Type of operation: Charter 
Sector: Balloon 
Damage to aircraft: Minor 
Destination:Broke, NSW
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Last update 14 July 2014