Feds cracking down on ‘unsafe’ hot air balloons following crash

Feds cracking down on ‘unsafe’ hot air balloons following crash
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is effectively grounding dozens of “unsafe” hot air balloons until it fixes potentially dangerous burners.

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European regulators recently discovered propane leaks on burners manufactured by a Czech company. The problem could cause fires on board hot air balloons, the FAA warned in its airworthiness directive.

"We have no way of determining the number of hot air balloons that may need the replacement, but we estimate that it will affect no more than 60 hot air balloons,” the agency wrote.

The FAA is stepping up oversight of the industry following a hot air balloon crash last month in Texas that killed 16 people. The new FAA directive is aimed at the same type of balloon that crashed.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a preliminary report that it believes the crash was caused by the balloon striking high-voltage power lines.

Hot air balloons that use these Czech burners will have five days to “identify and correct” the problem, the agency said.

The fixes will cost the hot air balloon industry an estimated $272,000, according to the FAA.

"The FAA has found that the risk to the flying public justifies waiving notice and comment prior to adoption of this rule, because this condition could result in a fire, damaging the balloon and its envelope, ultimately leading to an emergency landing, with consequent injury to the occupants and persons on the ground,” the agency wrote.