The ATSB recommends hot-air balloon operators, following their pre-flight safety briefing, have passengers demonstrate the landing position in the basket, to ensure there is no confusion about what to do in an emergency.
On 8 February 2018, a Kavanagh B-350 hot-air balloon, registration VH-EUA, operated as a scenic charter flight north of the Yarra Valley in Victoria with one pilot and 15 passengers on board.
About 45 minutes into the flight, the balloon encountered a sudden wind change with associated turbulence. The turbulence initially caused the balloon to increase altitude but then it began to descend. The pilot decided to conduct an emergency landing in a nearby paddock. Eleven passengers were injured in the resulting hard landing, with four requiring hospitalisation.
Acting ATSB Executive Director Transport Safety, Mr Patrick Hornby said that despite a pre-flight safety briefing, there was confusion among the passengers about what to do when the pilot advised them to get into their landing position.
It is good practice to ensure that all passengers know what they need to do after they have boarded the basket, including what they need to do in an emergency situation.
“The accident happened when the balloon encountered an unexpected wind change,” Mr Hornby said. An emergency landing was conducted, and some of the passengers were confused about what to do.”
The use and availability of Illustrated safety information cards is also recommended, particularly for passengers from a non-English speaking background. These should be kept or displayed in a convenient location for passengers to access or refer to.
“There are some important safety lessons from this accident,” Mr Hornby said. “It is good practice to ensure that all passengers know what they need to do after they have boarded the basket, including what they need to do in an emergency situation. Passengers need reminders.”
On 10 October 2018, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority released a cabin safety bulletin (Cabin safety bulletin 12 - General aviation passenger briefings) to provide guidance on how to conduct an effective safety briefing to improve passenger situational awareness and their response during an emergency.Last update 16 November 2018