Summarizing the Variety of News on the Texas Hot-Air Balloon Accident

texas hot air balloon accident
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Summary of News on the Texas Hot-Air Balloon Accident

NTSB Investigation   |   FAA’s Role   |   Victims & Families   |   Future of Ballooning

The deadliest U.S. hot-air balloon accident that took seconds to crash will need months of investigation, and even longer for any possible changes in regulations to take effect.

About 800 hot air balloon crashes have been reported in the U.S. since 1964, with 71 of them having at least one fatality.

A constant flow of news, from shocking to somber, is circulating about who was on board and their families, NTSB’s investigation and past efforts, FAA’s role, and the future of ballooning. Below is a brief categorized summary of what has been reported in the first few days of this tragic event.


NTSB Investigation

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→  NTSB renews calls for regulation of balloon operators after 16 die in Texas crash – Helicopter tour pilots and balloon tour operators have different regulations, and the National Transportation Safety Board wanted to change that in 2014.

→  Could the deadly hot air balloon crash in Texas have been avoided?


→  NTSB: Balloon pilot may have been trying to land – Evidence shows a pilot may have been trying to land when a hot air balloon crashed over the weekend in Texas and killed all 16 people on board, an NTSB official said Monday.

→  What’s next in Texas balloon crash investigation – What we know, what we don’t know, and what’s next.


FAA’s Role

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→  FAA Inspector Raised Concerns About Hot-Air Balloons Years Before Crash – Internal report submitted in 2012 or 2013 urged improved training, tighter certification requirements, closer oversight.

→  FAA gives hot air balloon operators little scrutiny – Aviation experts say commercial hot air balloons, like the one destroyed in a fireball in Texas over the weekend, often carry more passengers than airplane and helicopter tours, but have long received less government scrutiny.

→  Texas Balloon Crash: FAA and NTSB Clash Over Pilots’ Disclosure Rules – Federal regulations don’t appear to have required the pilot of the hot air balloon that crashed in Texas, killing all 16 people aboard, to disclose his past substance abuse issues — an apparent loophole that the lead investigator of the crash called “unacceptable” on Monday.


Victims & Families

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→  Newlyweds among victims of deadly hot air balloon crash, family says – The two, both 34, lived in San Antonio and just got married in February. “They were really happy and they were in love and they were really starting a life together.”

→  Families of hot air balloon victims visit crash site – Grief-stricken family members of the 16 people killed in the most deadly hot air balloon crash in United States history, traveled by bus to visit the crash site, and set up a memorial Monday.

→  Heartbreak as IDs of Texas balloon victims emerge; pilot’s history questioned

→  Texas Balloon Pilot was Convicted of Drunken Driving 4 Times – Whether the pilot’s drinking habits had anything to do with the crash was unclear…Had he been a commercial airplane pilot, Nichols probably would have been grounded long ago.

→  Lockhart hot air balloon crash: Tragic first pictures of victims as newlyweds and new mum among 16 dead

An image from the 21st of July shared by Skip Nichols

→  Victims Identified in Balloon Crash; Details of Final Moments Emerge

→  Company at center of hot air balloon crash suspends operations


Future of Ballooning

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→  Texas crash: How safe are hot air balloons? – The tragedy brings the number of deaths in U.S. balloon accidents since 2000 to 37, according to NTSB figures. By comparison, 728 people died in U.S. commercial and commuter airplane crashes during that same period — including 232 who died in the 9/11 attacks, according to NTSB statistics. The NTSB also reported 24 fatalities in sightseeing helicopter accidents over the same period.

→  Tragic hot air balloon crash doesn’t mean you need to avoid future rides – When we hear about tragedies like this one, it’s natural to consider the fragility of a hot air balloon and how it doesn’t seem all that natural to rely on one to keep us up in the air.

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