Aviation safety issues and actions

Guidance on vehicle-assisted deflation risks

Issue number: AO-2019-014-SI-03
Who it affects: Commercial Balloon operators that use a vehicle to assist during deflation
Issue owner: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Transport function: Aviation: Other
Background: Investigation Report AO-2019-014
Issue release date: 29 June 2020
Current issue status: Open – Safety action pending

Safety issue description

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority provided no guidance for operators concerning the risks associated with vehicle‑assisted deflation.

Proactive action

Action number: AO-2019-014-NSA-013
Action organisation: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Date: 29 June 2020
Action status: Monitor

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority advised the ATSB of their intention to produce an advisory circular addressing the safety issue in the following response:

... This AC [Advisory Circular] will include guidance on deflation of hot air balloon envelopes using vehicle assistance.

The information will include that:

1)  The operator and PIC should have a system to ensure communications are maintained at all times between the pilot, other ground crew persons, and the driver of the vehicle.

2)  Passengers should either have disembarked or have adopted the landing position before the deflation procedure begins.

3)  Pilots should be aware of the need to control the rate of deflation in relation to the force applied to the crown rope

4)  Operator’s operations manuals should document the standard operating procedure for deflating the balloon with or without vehicle assistance.

ATSB comment:

The ATSB agrees that the proposed advisory circular would, when published and disseminated, allow commercial balloon operators to take effective action to reduce the risks associated with vehicle‑assisted deflation practices. The ATSB will continue to monitor this safety action.

Last update 29 June 2020