Hi there, thanks for visiting our blog.
I am not a regular contributor, but I felt it was only right to post something at the end of a very sad week.
The terrible accident in Egypt on Tuesday has deeply affected everyone within the ballooning community. In over 30 years of involvement in ballooning, this is the worst incident I have heard of and our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with everyone involved.
At this point we do not know the specific cause, but naturally after something like this there are bound to be some questions about the safety of ballooning in general. This is completely understandable and I think it is important to reassure people. Hot air ballooning still remains a very safe activity and, despite the scale of ballooning globally, incidents of this kind are extremely rare. The international shock that follows such an occurrence does highlight how unusual it is.
Speaking specifically about the UK, in the region of 50,000 people fly safely in commercial balloons here every year. This is because of the high level of regulation we have from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and I wanted to explain how this works.
Any hot air balloon operator offering commercial public transport flights in the UK needs to hold an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) issued by CAA. They are then subject to regular audit by the CAA.
All hot air balloons registered in the UK also require a Certificate of Airworthiness, like any other form of aircraft, and they are rigorously inspected for airworthiness by specifically appointed balloon inspectors.
The pilot of a commercial hot air balloon flight, such as are paid for pleasure flights, needs to hold a CAA issued Commercial Pilot’s Licence for balloons, CPL(B). To achieve this status pilots must demonstrate a high level of flying skill as well as knowledge of Human Performance, Navigation, Meteorology, Balloon Systems, and Aviation Law. It takes years to gain a CPL and British pilots are considered among the best in the world.
Here at Virgin Balloon Flights safety is paramount and we continually invest in new equipment to ensure it is the best it can be. Our pilots are all experienced professionals and many have flown balloons all over the world.
Ballooning first started over 200 years ago and still today flying in a balloon is something many dream of doing. I sincerely hope people will continue to have the confidence to fulfill this dream in the UK.
CEO & Chief Pilot