Saturday, December 05, 2020

Collision During Landing: Head AX8-88B, N2224H; Accident occurred December 14, 2019 in Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, New Mexico


Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albuquerque, New Mexico

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico
Accident Number: WPR20CA050
Date & Time: December 14, 2019, 08:45 Local 
Registration: N2224H
Aircraft: Head AX8 88B 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Collision during takeoff/land
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot reported that, just after lifting off in the balloon, one of his passengers dropped to the bottom of the basket because he was afraid. After about 15 minutes of trying to get the passenger to relax, the pilot began looking for a place to land the balloon. The balloon was about 75 ft above ground level when the burner flamed out. While trying to relight the burner with a striker, the balloon descended and struck power lines, which severed four of the eight suspension cables attached to the basket. The balloon then impacted a building. According to the pilot, the burner had a history of flameouts, and he had experienced it many times. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the balloon that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A burner flameout, which resulted in the pilot's inability to arrest the balloon's descent and its subsequent impact with power lines as he was trying to relight the burner.


Aircraft (general) - Not specified
Aircraft Altitude - Attain/maintain not possible
Aircraft Descent rate - Not attained/maintained
Environmental issues Wire - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Takeoff Collision during takeoff/land (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private 
Age: 59,Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
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: None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 287.5 hours (Total, all aircraft), 282.5 hours (Total, this make and model), 287.5
hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 5.5 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 2.5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0.5 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Passenger Information

Age: Male
Airplane Rating(s):
Seat Occupied: None
Other Aircraft Rating(s):
Restraint Used: None
Instrument Rating(s): 
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s):
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification:
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Passenger Information

Age: Female
Airplane Rating(s): 
Seat Occupied: None
Other Aircraft Rating(s):
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): 
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s):
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: 
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Head 
Registration: N2224H
Model/Series: AX8 88B 
Aircraft Category: Balloon
Year of Manufacture: 2006 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Balloon
Serial Number: 351
Landing Gear Type: None 
Seats: 3
Date/Type of Last Inspection: October 5, 2019 Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1500 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 None
Airframe Total Time: 300 Hrs 
Engine Manufacturer:
ELT: Not installed 
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLRU,4457 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 07:45 Local 
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.97 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 2°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Las Cruces, NM (LRU)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Las Cruces, NM (LRU)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 08:15 Local
Type of Airspace: Class E
Runway Surface Type:
Airport Elevation: 
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 32.316944,-106.774719 (est)

1 comment:

  1. History of burner flameouts... Passengers should probably ask "Do all of your balloon controls work reliably?" when getting on.