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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 06:47 GMT
Balloon crash safety changes call
Crashed plane
This light aircraft came down in an industrial estate
A hot air ballooning company has been urged to review its procedures following an accident in south Wales last May.

Fourteen passengers were injured and the balloon pilot broke his ankle when it crash landed during violent storms.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) issued safety recommendations to the company Ballooning Network Ltd.

Reports into a fatal crash in Snowdonia and a crash landing on an industrial estate have also been published.

The AAIB report found the balloon had set off from the Monmouth area last May when it got into difficulties during the stormy weather and tried to land at a planned position unsuccessfully.

As the weather deteriorated, the balloon continued its flight until the pilot reached Pontypool and there he made an emergency landing, said the report.

Deteriorating weather

The basket landed hard on uneven ground, rolled on its side and was dragged across the ground. The passengers remained in the damaged basket in distress, air accident investigators found.

The AAIB said suitable alternative landing areas should be identified in future and safety helmets provided.

In another report about a separate incident, they found the pilot had been flying too low in deteriorating weather conditions when he crashed into the mountainside near Bethesda in Gwynedd last September.

Passenger Stuart Kingsbury, from Pontypool, was killed in the crash while the pilot, Brian Vaux, 61, and also from Pontypool, was seriously injured.

 Cessna air crash
The passenger was killed when the Cessna crashed in Snowdonia

The AAIB report said the pilot's unfamiliarity with the area may have also disguised the danger.

An earlier climb in the flight, marked on the flight log, or an accurately flown track over the Menai Straits, would "almost certainly have prevented this tragic incident", they said.

Investigators also found that metal fatigue led to a light aircraft coming down in the middle of Treforest Industrial Estate near Pontypridd, south Wales last July. The aircraft suffered engine failure and crashed into an industrial unit, before coming to rest upside down on a main road.

The pilot and his wife, who had just taken off from Cardiff airport for their home in the Surrey area, escaped with minor injuries.

The AAIB investigation found that the pilot failed to make a satisfactory forced landing, partly because of a lack of recent practice.




SEE ALSO
Pilot's thanks for air crash help
13 Feb 07 |  North West Wales
Passenger, 73, dies in air crash
15 Sep 06 |  North West Wales

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