Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain involving Kubicek Balloons BB78Z, VH-RJR, Elwood, Victoria on 20 April 2022

Investigation number:
Status: Active
Investigation in progress


The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has commenced a transport safety investigation into a collision with terrain involving a Kubicek Balloons BB78Z hot air balloon, registered VH-RJR, in Elwood, Victoria, on 20 April 2022.

On the morning of 20 April 2022, VH-RJR was being operated on a scenic passenger flight in company with five other balloons between Royal Park and Moorabbin Airport, Victoria, with a pilot and 12 passengers on board. During the flight, the pilot encountered a problem with one of the deflation systems, resulting in difficulties with maintaining altitude and the decision to attempt a landing at Elwood beach. The balloon subsequently descended into a residential area, striking trees before coming to rest outside a residential building. There were no reported injuries.

The evidence collection phase of the investigation will include interviewing the balloon’s pilot and passengers, as well as witnesses to the accident, analysing recorded evidence, examining the balloon envelope at an independent technical facility, and reviewing operator procedures and records.

A report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation. However, should any critical safety issues be identified at any stage during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken.

General details
Date: 20 April 2022   Investigation status: Active  
Time: 07:16 AUS Eastern Standard Time   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Elwood   Investigation phase: Evidence collection  
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 21 April 2022   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Pending   Highest injury level: None  
Anticipated completion: 4th Quarter 2022    

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft model BB78Z  
Aircraft registration VH-RJR  
Serial number 1863  
Operator Liberty Balloon Flights  
Type of operation Ballooning  
Sector Balloon  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Departure point Royal Park, Parkville, Victoria  
Destination Moorabbin Airport  
Last update 11 May 2022