Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Passengers injured during a hot air balloon accident felt the pilot was more concerned with packing away his equipment than helping them

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has this month published a report into the incident on March 5, 2011, when a landing went wrong at Ulpha, near Broughton.

The report describes how the pilot of the balloon, carrying 16 passengers, tried to land in the Dunnerdale Valley at around 4.05pm.

But wind took the balloon off course, forcing it into some trees. The pilot had to abandon his efforts and climb back up but, as he did, the basket brushed through branches for around 100 metres before being dragged through taller trees.

Speaking directly after the accident, one passenger, Adrian Treharne described an “almighty crash”.

The civil servant, from north Yorkshire, said: “It was like a car crash, but it all happened fairly slowly.

“Branches were constantly raining down.”

After getting clear of the branches, the balloon landed four minutes later on Birker Fell. As it did, it hit a barbed wire fence and tipped on to its side.

The report describes how, after making the balloon safe, the pilot helped the passengers from the basket.

One passenger, who spent two days at Furness General Hospital after the crash, said a branch “jabbed” her in the ribs and she felt sore on her right side.

Others reported minor injuries and back and neck pains.

The report said: “Some commented on the lack of attention to their welfare after landing and the relative priority accorded them over the need to pack and recover the balloon and its equipment, despite several of them showing signs of shock.”

A Virgin Balloon Flights spokesman said: “All pilots and crew are trained for rare situations of this kind, but we have reiterated that they should seek medical assistance as a precaution, even if a passenger declines, as in this case.

“We did not contact passengers directly after the flight as we did not have sufficient details, but once these were in hand, we contacted passengers, including those who had contacted us in the meantime, and offered refunds.

“We cooperated fully with the AAIB and the recommendations from the report will be shared with our pilots to further improve safety.”

Source:  http://www.nwemail.co.uk

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