Aviation safety investigations & reports

Hard landing involving a Kavanagh Balloon, VH-CNX, 60 km NW of Gold Coast Airport, Qld on 26 September 2014

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 26 September 2014 at about 0450 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot of a Kavanagh Balloon, registered VH-CNX, conducted pre-flight preparations for a charter flight with 22 passengers. Due to the forecast winds, the pilot elected to depart from Beaudesert, with a planned landing site in Cedar Grove, Queensland.

The pilot conducted a safety briefing including demonstration of the landing position. The passengers then assumed their landing positions and the pilot was satisfied they understood the correct position to adopt. After completing the pre-flight checks, the balloon lifted off at about 0550. After about a 20-minute flight, the pilot commenced the descent to the landing site.

During the approach, the pilot observed a light ground fog and was heading directly into the sun, making the landing site difficult to see. The pilot attempted to obtain an accurate rate of descent from the altimeter, but it was reading erratically. The pilot instructed the passengers to adopt the landing position, but not all of them complied. He repeated his instructions to the passengers, the altimeter continued to read erratically and facing directly into the sun made visual assessment of the approach difficult.

The balloon landed hard and bounced once before landing about 3 m further along the ground. Two passengers sustained serious injuries, and seven had minor injuries. The balloon was undamaged.

In this incident, the combination of moderate wind speed, the position of the sun, equipment issues and non-compliance to instructions by passengers, contributed to increase the pilot workload at a critical phase of flight.


Aviaiton Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 37

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 110KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOCX: 477KB]
General details
Date: 26 September 2014   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0620 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 60 km NW of Gold Coast Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Hard landing  
Release date: 23 December 2014   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Kavanagh Balloons  
Aircraft model B-400  
Aircraft registration VH-CNX  
Serial number B400-438  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Balloon  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Last update 14 November 2018