The Civil Aviation Authority has attributed blame for the
Carterton balloon tragedy partly to failures by the pilot
One year after the balloon crash that claimed the lives of Mr
Hopping and 10 passengers, the CAA has released its final
report which says Mr Hopping's medical certificate to fly was
not current at the time of the crash and his "failures
contributed to the accident".
Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, Mr Hopping was
"expected to take 'all practicable steps' to ensure the
safety of his passengers", the CAA's director of civil
aviation Graeme Harris said.
"The balloon had on-board safety features, including a rapid
deflation system and a parachute valve, but there was no
evidence that the passengers were ever briefed on their use,
and in the event, they were never deployed," Mr Harris said
in a statement.
"Insufficient communication between the balloon and the
ground crew, particularly during the landing phase of the
flight, was also cited as contributing factor."
The CAA investigation also found:
- There were "some non-compliance issues" for the test
procedures used by Hawkes Bay Aviation, the maintenance
- No other duty holders, including operator and maintenance
providers, were found in breach of the Act;
- The pilot's medical certificate had expired six weeks prior
to the accident;
- The pilot had recorded an incident involving a hard landing
in 1999 in which a passenger fell sideways and broke her
ankle. "It was not considered to be extraordinary," the CAA
The report recommends simulations of emergency features
during biennial reviews of safety.
It also recommends reviewing basket design, passenger safety
briefings and effective communication between pilots and
Mr Harris said since the accident there had been "major
changes" to the safety of adventure and aviation tourism.
He said the CAA would not comment further on the Carterton
tragedy while "more wide-ranging investigations are ongoing".
- Kieran Campbell