Canada's Safety Board Seeks Stricter Ballooning Oversight

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Companies that offer hot-air balloon rides to the public should be subject to periodic inspections by federal officials, according to a report by Canada's Transportation Safety Board. Two hot-air balloons were destroyed by fire in August 2007 in Canada while carrying paying passengers. Two passengers died and several others were badly hurt. The board concluded that Canada's Department of Transport should require commercial balloon operations that take paying passengers to provide a level of safety equivalent to that established for other aircraft of equal passenger-carrying capacity. Standards and regulations should be clear, and inspections should ensure that they are met, the safety board said. The safety board also wants rules established to ensure that balloons carrying paying passengers are equipped with an emergency fuel shut-off. Transport Canada said it will conduct a risk assessment of the industry before deciding if new regulations are necessary.

Two passengers died in August 2007 in Surrey, British Columbia, when a fire broke out in a balloon while it was still tied to a trailer before launch. The pilot and 10 other passengers escaped, though several were hurt. That same month, a balloon caught fire during a rough landing in Winnipeg, Manitoba. All occupants escaped; however, the pilot and two passengers suffered serious injuries in the intense fire.