Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Aerostar International Inc RX 8, registered to and operated by Up Up Away Hot Air Balloon Company, N9015Y: Accident occurred October 22, 2016 in Mount Ulla, Rowan County, North Carolina

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charlotte, North Carolina

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms 
 
http://registry.faa.gov/N9015Y


Location: Mount Ulla, NC
Accident Number: ERA17LA029
Date & Time: 10/22/2016, 0838 EDT
Registration: N9015Y
Aircraft: AEROSTAR INTERNATIONAL RX8
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Defining Event: Hard landing
Injuries: 1 Serious, 4 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Other Work Use - Sightseeing 

On October 22, 2016, about 0838 eastern daylight time, an Aerostar International, Inc. RX-8 balloon, N9015Y, registered to and operated by Up Up Away Hot Air Balloon Company, incurred minor damage while landing in a field near Mount Ulla, North Carolina. The balloon was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a revenue sightseeing flight. The commercial pilot and three passengers sustained no injuries, while the remaining passenger was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated about 53 minutes earlier from Statesville Regional Airport (SVH), Statesville, North Carolina.

The pilot stated that the balloon was part of the Carolina BalloonFest, and prior to the flight he attended a pilot briefing and was informed that the wind would be picking up after 0900. In advance of the flight he informed the passengers of the procedures related to landing stance, to hold the handles inside the basket, and to keep their arms and legs inside the basket.

After takeoff the balloon drifted in an east-southeasterly direction, and, due to the time aloft, the pilot elected to land in a hay field. Prior to landing, he informed the passengers that that they needed to hold on and to expect a "bouncy and hard landing." On approach to the field, he noticed the surface winds had significantly increased and informed the passengers to face the direction of travel with their knees bent, and that after touchdown the basket may tip on its side. He also instructed them to, "put down your cameras and hang on with both hands", and that they were going to bounce. The husband of the injured passenger reported his wife was using one hand to secure her camera that was around her neck, and her other hand was holding onto the basket railing. Just prior to touchdown, the pilot pulled the deflation line and reported a hard landing. After ground contact, the basket leaned on its side and the passenger who was holding on with one hand put her arms out of the basket. He then informed all to keep their arms and legs inside, and another passenger grabbed the passenger who had put her arms outside. The basket then became airborne shortly followed by another ground contact. The balloon was dragged on the ground for a short distance, and after coming to rest, the passenger who had put her arms outside at touchdown complained of pain. The pilot identified their location, called 911, and the injured passenger was transported to a hospital for treatment. Her injuries included a fractured vertebrae and wrist.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Weather reports taken at SVH reported the wind at the time of departure from 260° at 4 kts. The wind remained between 3 and 4 kts from the southwest between 0745 and 0825, while the next observation at 0845, or about 7 minutes after the accident, depicted the wind from 280° at 8 kts.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Passenger Briefings and Management

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Balloon Flying Handbook FAA-H-8083-11A (2008), the various aspects of landing a balloon are discussed and states in part:In any branch of aviation, takeoff and landing are the most critical maneuvers. In ballooning, landing is number one. The vast majority of ballooning accidents and injuries occur on landing. This handbook also discusses passenger briefings and management indicating that "hold on tight" in two places is probably the least followed of the landing instructions. It goes on to say that most passengers are not mentally prepared for the shock that can occur when a 7,000 pound balloon contacts the ground. Passengers should be reminded to hold on tight, and the correct places to hold, whether they are factory-built passenger handles or places in the balloon's basket the pilot considers appropriate.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 31, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: None
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Balloon
Restraint Used: None
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/10/2013
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/30/2015
Flight Time:   614 hours (Total, all aircraft), 427 hours (Total, this make and model), 614 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 21 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 11 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1.7 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: AEROSTAR INTERNATIONAL
Registration: N9015Y
Model/Series: RX8
Aircraft Category: Balloon
Year of Manufacture: 1997
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Balloon
Serial Number: RX8-3293
Landing Gear Type: None
Seats:
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 11/11/2015, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1650 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines:
Airframe Total Time: 528 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer:
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: UP UP AWAY HOT AIR BALLOON CO
Rated Power:
Operator: UP UP AWAY HOT AIR BALLOON CO
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: SVH, 968 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0845 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 290°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 5000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 8 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 280°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.96 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 9°C / 1°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Statesville, NC (SVH)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Mount Ulla, NC
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0745 EDT
Type of Airspace:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious, 3 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 4 None

Latitude, Longitude:  35.692778, -80.710556

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA029
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 22, 2016 in Mount Ulla, NC
Aircraft: AEROSTAR INTERNATIONAL RX8, registration: N9015Y
Injuries: 1 Serious, 4 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


On October 22, 2016, about 0838 eastern daylight time, an Aerostar International, Inc. RX-8 balloon, N9015Y, registered to and operated by Up Up Away Hot Air Balloon Company, incurred minor damage while landing near Mount Ulla, North Carolina. The balloon was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a revenue sightseeing flight. The commercial pilot and three passengers sustained no injuries, while the remaining passenger was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated about 53 minutes earlier from Statesville Regional Airport (SVH), Statesville, North Carolina.


The pilot stated that the balloon was part of the Carolina BalloonFest, and prior to the flight he attended a pilot briefing and was informed that the wind would be picking up after 0900. In advance of the flight he informed the passengers of the procedures related to landing stance, to hold the handles, and to keep their arms and legs inside the basket


After takeoff the balloon drifted in an east-southeasterly direction, and, due to the time aloft and spotting of a suitable field, the pilot elected to land in a hay field. Prior to landing, he informed the passengers that that they needed to hold on and to expect a "bouncy and hard landing." On approach to the field, he noticed the surface winds had significantly increased and informed the passengers to face the direction of travel with their knees bent, and that after touchdown the basket may tip on its side. He indicated that he told one passenger who was taking pictures, to put the camera down and hold on, then informed all that they were going to bounce. Prior to touchdown he pulled the deflation line, and after ground contact the basket leaned on its side and one passenger put her arms out of the basket. He then informed all to keep their arms and legs inside, and another passenger grabbed the passenger who had put her arms outside. The basket then became airborne shortly followed by ground contact. After coming to rest, the passenger who had put her arms outside at touchdown complained of pain. The pilot called 911 and the injured passenger was transported to a hospital for treatment.

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