TAIC investigating hot air balloon accident near Ashburton

1 Jan 2022
Photo depicts the accident scene. The basket that held the occupants lies on its side in a paddock. The deflated balloon envelope lies stretched out and folded.
The tipped-over balloon basket and deflated envelope at the accident scene

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) is appealing for witnesses to the hot air balloon accident today [eds: approx. 0900, 1 January 2022] near Ashburton.

The Commission has opened an inquiry into the accident and is calling for anyone to come forward if they saw the accident or observed the balloon in flight

“We are particularly keen to receive photographs or videos,” says Harald Hendel, the Chief Investigator of Accidents.

Witnesses should use the online form at www.taic.org.nz/contact-us.

“The circumstances reported to TAIC were that the balloon pilot was ejected from the basket during a rough landing, was caught in a rope and dragged some way before the balloon came to rest and the basket tipped over.

“The pilot is reported to have been seriously injured in the accident, and was taken to hospital.

“We have heard of no other injuries to the seven others reportedly on board.”

Mr Hendel says the Commission has appointed a TAIC investigation team of two, who are travelling to the accident site today.

"The Investigation team’s evidence collection work is broad to support the many routes that an investigation could follow.

“Over the next several days, TAIC’s investigators will gather evidence about the accident scene, secure wreckage and electronic records such as photos, videos, and location data on the cellphones of the balloon occupants.

“We’re interested in what the balloon occupants recall, along with the relevant professional and personal backgrounds of the pilot and other operator staff, what they knew, thought, experienced, and did.

“We’ll be looking at the balloon, basket and other elements of the aircraft, its individual and type history, performance, maintenance, design.

“The operating environment is also of interest, including physical, weather, operating company safety system, organisational culture of the operator, traffic control, regulatory matters.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission opens an inquiry when it believes the circumstances of an accident or incident have - or are likely to have - significant implications for transport safety, or when the inquiry may allow the Commission to make findings or recommendations to improve transport safety.