Commercial Hot Air Balloons Soon Back in the Air

The development comes after detailed conditions for obtaining a certificate for commercial air balloon use, missing in legislative provisions on aviation adopted in 2001, have finally be set down and were published in the Official Gazette on Monday.

The Civil Aviation Agency received nine applications by last Friday, which it will able to process this week, thus ending the ban imposed after the 23 August hot air balloon crash near Ljubljana in which six people were killed and 26 injured.

It transpired after the accident that not a single one of the commercial balloons registered in Slovenia had been flying completely in compliance with legislation, which stipulates that obtaining an air carrier certificate – as opposed to only a piloting license – is also obligatory for commercial air balloon use.

No certificates have been applied for and none issued because legislative provisions adopted in 2001 have not been followed up by detailed instructions on their implementation, which have failed to be set down by any of the transport ministers since, the head of the Agency for Civil Aviation Žiga Kotnik explained then.

The rules adopted now say that a commercial balloon can carry a maximum of 19 passengers or 20 including the pilot, that all pilots must be subjected to periodical training and that checks need to be performed on whether their training is compliant with the type of balloon used.

Flights cannot be started unless the pilot is certain that conditions will be safe in all phases of the flight and has consulted all available meteorological data.

A preliminary report on the August accident says that the landing of the balloon, which carried 32 people, was disrupted by a strong gust of wind, which led to the balloon hitting the ground several times, crashing against a tree and catching fire.

Investigators believe that the accident would have probably not occurred were it not for the gust, but also pointed out that the unstable weather conditions were discernible before the start of the flight.