Fatal Austin Hot Air Balloon Crash Leaves No Survivors

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On July 30th, 2016, 16 people died in a fatal Austin hot air balloon crash. We often hear of vehicle accidents, and even occasionally airline accidents. Catastrophic accidents such as this one are never expected but are a very real possibility that leaves family, friends and loved ones devastated.

When tragic accidents such as this one occur, industry safety regulations need to be reviewed to determine if improvements can be made to reduce the risk of similar accidents occurring again in the future.

The Austin Hot Air Balloon Crash

Shortly after 7:40 a.m., a hot air balloon caught fire and plummeted to the ground after colliding with high-tension power lines. There were no survivors of the crash, leaving many loved ones confused and distressed. The pilot has been identified as Alfred Nichols, owner and chief pilot of a hot air balloon ride company.

Mr. Nichols was passionate about hot air balloons, as seen by postings on his Facebook wall. But what many did not know about the pilot was that he had four previous DUI convictions. We do not know if he was intoxicated at the time of the accident, but the Better Business Bureau of Missouri where he was previously located as a pilot issued warnings to customers about his business.

Hot Air Balloon Safety Regulations

Current regulations on hot air balloon piloting do not protect passengers against potential hazards such as a pilot with a history of DUIs. In fact, hot air balloon pilots are not required to submit the same kind of medical check required of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as pilots who fly other aircraft such as airplanes. The medical check does check for alcohol-related issues, which balloonists are also not required to disclose to the FAA.

Why aren’t balloon pilots held to the same regulations as pilots of other aircraft? The answer is unclear. But as last month’s tragic accident shows, fatal accidents can occur in any type of aircraft. Hot air balloons should not be treated any differently.

Flying any type of aircraft impaired as dangerous to passengers and can easily result in unnecessary disaster. Regulations must be updated and improved to protect the safety of passengers who assume their hot air balloon pilot is safe and held to the same standards as other pilots.

North Texas Personal Injury Attorney

Fatal and catastrophic accidents such as the Austin hot air balloon crash are devastating to loved ones. McCraw Law Group is here to help. Our personal injury attorneys are skilled and knowledgeable, and our primary focus is looking out for our clients in their time of need.

If you have lost a loved one to a catastrophic accident, fill out our online contact form of call 972-854-7900 to schedule a free, private consultation.

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