Sunday, March 25, 2012

Balloon-crash findings may never go public

The findings of an investigation into a hot-air balloon crash landing in North Canterbury may never be made public.

Civil Aviation Authority spokeswoman Emma Peel today said the weekend's crash was being treated as a serious incident rather than a higher-level accident as it appeared there was no injury to passengers.

Accidents findings were released only because they could be beneficial to the wider aviation industry, but incidents with hot-air balloons could often be related to an incorrect assessment of the weather, she said.

Investigators would talk to witnesses, the pilot and the company.

Peel said the investigation would be conducted from a desk in Wellington. No investigators would visit the site.

No action was being taken against Balloon Adventures Up Up and Away Ltd and it could operate flights as normal, Peel said.

The incident happened about 8am on Saturday when a gust of wind picked up a hot-air balloon carrying 18 passengers as it was preparing to land.

The balloon crashed into pine trees, putting holes in the balloon, before a final attempt at landing was made and the balloon bounced, slid and tipped on its side, bringing it to a stop in a paddock in Downs Rd near Eyrewell Forest.

Passenger Savannah Hyssong said she was terrified and there were screams of panic from passengers. 

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