‘Unexpected wind’ caused balloon crash: GCAA probe

ABU DHABI - The team appointed by General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to probe into the hot air balloon accident near Al Ain on April 25 last, has concluded in its interim report that ‘unexpected wind’ caused the accident which claimed the lives of a French national and an Indian national.

By T Ramavarman

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Published: Tue 25 May 2010, 12:58 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:45 PM

“We have received only the interim report, we will be able to come out with the categorical assessment on the cause of the accident when the team submits its final report. But the interim report says the unexpected intensifying of the wind had caused it,” Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the GCAA, told Khaleej Times here.

“The norms have it that balloon flights should be conducted only when the wind speed is lower than 15 nautical miles per minute. Even though there were winds in the area then, as per the forecast received by the pilot then, the wind speed was to be lower than this level. But the wind speed intensified above this level after the flight took off,” he said.

Asked whether the company will be permitted to resume its operations, which have been suspended after the tragedy, in the wake of the interim report Saif Mohammed said, “This will be considered only after the final report is received.”

He disclosed that the probe team has also recommended measures to augment the safety arrangements in the balloon flights.

Accordingly, balloon passengers will have to use helmets and seat belts. The balloon flights will be permitted only under strictly monitored conditions. The crash had also caused moderate to critical injuries to 11 persons.

The mishap occurred when the hot air balloon in which they were on a tourist trip crashed as it was trying to make an emergency landing at Nahel Suwaihan in Al Ain following the intense winds.

The officials of the Balloon Adventures Emirates or BAE which was conducting the hot air balloon trip had said one of their ground crew members hailing from Tanzania was among those injured.

The GCAA as the regulatory agency had given the licence to the company BAE to operate balloon flights. The flights are operated in coordination with the air traffic control tower at Al Ain Airport, Saif Mohammed said.

ramavarman@khaleejtimes.com



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