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Re: Balloon

Post by HEPZIBAH »

Who2 wrote:Well in answer to the above post we do have an expert on here for all things ballooning,
and we await her considered and valued response to Hafiz's ill informed and ignorant post on all things ballooning.... 8)
Yes, we do. I would also like to hear what our 'resident' expert has to say as I respect her knowledge on the subject matter. I would not however want her to feel obliged to post because of other people's differences of opinion and understanding.


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Re: Balloon

Post by Dusak »

newcastle wrote:
“Luxor governor Mohamed Badr ordered the closure of all highways linking to other provinces due to poor visibility.”
That's odd.

I know of at least two groups who drove from Hurghada to Luxor early this morning.

Perhaps any closure was short lived.

The Civil Aviation Authority seems to think there's not too much to worry about....
The agency quoted Hany al-Adawy, head of the civil aviation authority, as saying that the crash was "accidental" and that balloon flights would continue operating as usual.
Of course, any "quotes" from Egyptian sources need to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Are not all balloon happenings such as this one, and all the rest of course, ''accidental?''
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Re: Balloon

Post by newcastle »

"Accidental".....probably lost something in translation. :lol:

I expect he meant "unforseeable - act of God".....in the sense of not obvious mechanical failure, pilot error or "enemy action".

I'm still going with my theory of freak gust of wind......with which, perhaps, the pilot was unable to cope.

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Re: Balloon

Post by Moonstone »

The balloons were flying again this morning. One almost landed in my garden at 8 o'clock! It was very low indeed but I have no idea where it ended up.
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Re: Balloon

Post by Mad Dilys »

Luxor has the only "Ballooning Airport" in the world and it was conceived and is operated by the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority.

All Pilots their equipment and staff are regularly examined by teams from the ECAA.

All pilots must present their documents to an official of the ECAA immediately before the flight.

The Pilot in Command of a balloon cannot take to the air without the express permission of a ECAA official on the ground and once in the air is under the control of the authorities at Luxor Airport.

A pilot may refuse to fly without giving a reason, although questions might be asked of him.
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Re: Balloon

Post by carrie »

The voice of authority thank you Mad Dilys

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Re: Balloon

Post by Dusak »

So, we have to ask, would it be conceivable for him to take the chance and fly to save being asked the questions if he had privately deemed it to be a bit windy. Some folk do not like to be questioned if they can envisage the likely outcome.
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Re: Balloon

Post by Mad Dilys »

I cannot speculate on whether a pilot might or might not feel pressured in any way to fly, but I think that every pilot in Luxor is well aware of the outcome of an accident and the effect it would have on their family - let alone a natural desire to protect the people in their safekeeping.

I have known pilots not fly when given permission and they simply have been asked why and given a truthful answer with no repercussions from the Authorities.
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Re: Balloon

Post by newcastle »

I think we need to await the official report which will be forthcoming in due course.

20 + balloons received permission to fly and all but one did so successfully. This would suggest to me that newspaper/anecdotal reports that the weather was unsuitable were exaggerated - to say the least.

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Re: Balloon

Post by Dusak »

I think just good luck for the rest of them. It was windy that morning as the very tall trees that grow along the Hilton driveway had quite a rustling sway on them, as noted while I worked in the garden.
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Re: Balloon

Post by Chris »

From todays Guardian online:

Lainie Drinkwater, the mother of one of the passengers, Zoe Drinkwater from Newcastle in NSW, told the Seven Network: “As they were coming in to land there was a big gust of wind that came up, which then consequently knocked out the pilot.

“The pilot was unconscious ... so no one was actually steering and operating this balloon so it was just plunging.”

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Re: Balloon

Post by Mad Dilys »

That's very interesting Chris.

Maybe I should explain that I was a Hot Air Balloon Operations consultant for over 20 years.

I have spent many hundreds of hours in the passenger retrieve vehicle anticipating the flight path and in competition with the crew on the lorry to see who could be at the landing first.

I understand the balloon was flying north? If so that is unusual, except at this time of year and even then not very often.

I know that there can be very diverse air currents north of the Valley of the Kings. I've seen balloons flying quietly parallel to the mountain suddenly pick up speed and be going like a train by the time they got over the cemetery. The usual practice is to land as soon as possible or go high and take the current which will take the balloon over the river and north of Karnak.

I remember watching a flight some years ago and remarking to my driver, "If he doesn't land in the next 20 seconds he'll go to Karnak". As the balloon went high we were on our way to Karnak and got there 10 minutes ahead of the lorry. The balloon had landed in calm conditions and was upright without any problem and ready for the crew when they appeared.

I think it is worthwhile to note that in some countries the very large balloons are not permitted to fly, or if they are over a certain size, depending on the country then there should be two pilots. In normal conditions then one would be in control of the balloon when coming in to land and the other would be in control of the passengers who are quite capable and do put everyone's lives at risk in their ignorance.

PS It's possible that the balloon hit an updraft coming into land. If you want a technical explanation I can give it, but it's pretty boring.
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Re: Balloon

Post by newcastle »

Interesting MD.

"Egyptian prosecutors have ordered the detention of four people over a hot air balloon crash that killed a South African tourist and wounded at least a dozen others, including a number of Australians.

The balloon’s pilot, the director of the airport from which it took off and two officials from the company that owns the balloon were detained for four days pending an investigation."

I imagine this is standard where there's been a serious accident. The pilot is in contact with the ground crew....and presumably the airport as well. The investigators will want to know what instructions passed between them.

A passenger commented :

“The pilot was unconscious ... so no one was actually steering and operating this balloon so it was just plunging.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/ ... ustralians

You can see the advantages of having 2 pilots on board! Also, as MD indicates, keeping control of the passengers is essential.

I've flown several times and had a near squeak a few years back when 2 lads decide to vault out the basket just after it touched down. Needless to say, the balloon immediately took off again.

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Re: Balloon

Post by Hafiz »

Alice Springs balloon accident.

It was investigated by the safety authority and procedures found not adequate and changed for all balloons in Australia. One balloon broke the law and did not have all required instruments.

One pilot was convicted and jailed for two years – overturned on appeal. Later he was jailed for five years on an unrelated matter. His balloon company was driven broke and he was driven out of the industry. Thank god.

It was a one off disaster – never repeated.

Luxor Incidents

Members of this forum have short memories or maybe they just respond to the latest news as another ‘unique’ circumstance – rather that see it as further evidence of systemic failure going back more than a decade and which often repeats itself. In any event public safety has never been an Egyptian strength. Regulation in technically proficient way that avoids favoritism and corruption is also not a strength. Closing down balloons for a time isn't such a bad idea if you want to reform it. The Turks had a few problems a few years ago and closed it down for retraining and new regulation - they haven't had any subsequent problems. The reference to the Germans and Americans. Obviously you don't know that, unlike flying airplanes, the licensing of Egyptians balloon pilots is not on international/Western standards. If you want western standards you will need to bring some westerners in. If you are happy with third world standards - then good luck.

There is some evidence that Luxor balloonists were not well trained in 2013. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/ ... ning-luxor. I’m still waiting for evidence that a new stronger training program was implemented – and one which fails half the applicants. I say this because Egypt is full of high standards – which alas are not implemented. For example this is what a local said in 2013:

“Mohammed Osman, head of the Luxor's Tourism Chamber, blamed civil aviation authorities, who are in charge of licensing and inspecting balloons, accusing them of negligence.

"I don't want to blame the revolution for everything, but the laxness started with the revolution," he said. "These people are not doing their job, they are not checking the balloons and they just issue the licenses without inspection." http://beta.philstar.com/world/2013/02/ ... XRwoPbW.99

Another example – the 2009 ‘incident’ – the pilot took off “in rough weather without permission from the air traffic control tower.” So you can have rules but these mean nothing if you employ cow-boys (possibly driven by financial considerations or the demands of their boss). http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/eg ... sh-1731627

This is the fifth (at least) balloon ‘problem’ in 9 years. Everyone forgets about 2009 when 16 were injured when a balloon hit a cellphone tower and 2008 when seven (one report says four) were injured in a similar crash. A balloon crashed into a boat on the Nile in 2011. So that is one crash/problem every 1.8 years. There was also an ‘incident’ in 2007 (eight French and Americans and two Egyptians) involving strong winds and two further incidents in 2009 on the same day as the cellphone tower which if true would make eight incidents – and there were probably more prior to 2007. There is some evidence that two weeks prior to the 2009 incident there was a crash which injured seven people and in late February of 2009 three balloons crashed injuring seven persons. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/ ... criticised. Its unclear because the Aviation Ministry doesn't have an official list of incidents. But there is a consistent pattern.

What happened after these ‘incidents’ isn’t clear but what is clear is that the tour companies were less than vigilant? Sky Cruises, which was responsibly for the 2013 deaths had had an accident in 2011 where their balloon crashed into a boat on the Nile which left the basket floating in the river. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/ ... on-company. How the company stayed in business after that and how it continued to be licensed by the government isn’t clear. Why Thomas Cook continued to use Sky Cruise/Blue Sky after 2011 is not clear. Sky Cruise was still in operation after the 2013 incident – unbelievable. Whether the 2013 ‘captain’ was ever prosecuted is hard to tell from available sources. What action the government took after any or all of these incidents isn’t clear. Whether those companies/staff involved in previous incidents are still in the business isn’t clear. Whether there were formal disciplinary hearings for these incidents isn’t clear – but I don’t think that all were covered.

In 2013 the Balloon’s were banned. Locals kicked up a fuss and service was restarted after 45 days (it had been stopped for 6 months after the 2009 incident) – which was months ahead of the special report looking at the causes. Therefore the relevant authorities were prepared to run the service before they knew what had caused the 2013 killings. For example the hose leak was from an eight year old hose which ‘may’ have exceeded its life cycle. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... rnage.html. Was this finding used to ensure inspection of equipment on other balloons with specific dates put on certain equipment. The government report is vague on ‘action to be taken’.

Some people think the problem has often been about pilots, butane gas and weather – and thought this years ago. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/ ... spotlight/ Others think it ‘inevitable’ in part because western pilots refuse to work there (western accreditation is regarded as much better and there is no international curriculum/syllabus) and local skills are less than desirable/very weak. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 17919.html In Egypt’s case the UK pilots established the business but were ‘forced out’ to make way for ‘local talent’. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/ ... criticised. It seems likely that pilot standards in Egypt are considerably lower than the West.

Turkey has had similar but less serious problems and has dealt with them via aggressive reform.

Safety rules have been changed. After 2009 no more that eight balloons were to be in the air at one time to increase safety – I think this was quickly changed and there were at least 20 the other day. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/eg ... sh-1731627

Lots of so-called experts see the problem as the competition for tourists and the collapse in Luxor tourism – leading to cost cutting, corner cutting and reduction in charges to unsustainable levels. Some think that prices would need to increase substantially to provide a cash basis for western levels of safety.

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Re: Balloon

Post by carrie »

Hafiz you can quote all the references you like to try to prove your point but I am sure that those of us who live here would trust the word and knowledge of Mad Dilys before any second hand reports. I don't believe her company has ever been involved in any accidents and am sure her pilots are trained to International standards.

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Re: Balloon

Post by newcastle »

Whatever one's views on degree to which the ballooning enterprises in Luxor adhere to "best practice", one shouldn't lose sight of the fact that hot air ballooning is inherently a risky activity.

No amount of pilot experience, operational rules & regulations, equipment inspections etc, will eliminate the possibility of accidents resulting from unpredictable changes in weather or , occasionally, the stupid actions of the passengers.

If you are not prepared to accept the risks...then don't fly.

Whether the statistics, or anecdotal comments, involving Luxor balloons indicates serious problems is debatable. I share Hafiz's general view of the Egyptian attitude in matters of health and safety but, personally, consider the risks in ballooning tolerable. I'm sure the pilots are as concerned about their own life as mine! I do find it disquieting that flights resumed within 24 hrs....long before the cause of the accident can have been investigated to any meaningful degree.

We don't stop people skiing because of the possibility of avalanches or that individuals might chose to go off piste and come to grief. Nor do I think hot air ballooning in Luxor should be terminated on the basis of one or two accidents a year when there must be over 5000 flights.

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Re: Balloon

Post by Mad Dilys »

There is one balloon company which has been awarded 4 Thomson gold medals and was for many years the only company that they recommended.

A few years ago when that company was in the middle of it's normal review the Powers that Be in the tour company head office decided they should also investigate other companies who were often much cheaper - in spite of the balloon company under review being possibly their biggest trouble free money earner in Egypt.

Unfortunately during a review of Another Company a farcical situation ensued which ended with the authorities being involved and deciding that only the ECAA had the authority to inspect balloon companies.

As a result Thomson was no longer able to sell the flights as they had not been inspected to the satisfaction of their insurers.

There my friends you have it - the question has been asked for years and now you know.
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Re: Balloon

Post by newcastle »

Just so I understand the above MD.....

Are you saying that, when the ECAA took over the sole inspection role, Thomson's insurers were no longer prepared to insure their clients on any balloon flights?

If so, then presumably the insurers were unconvinced about the ability of the ECAA to carry out their duties!

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Re: Balloon

Post by Who2 »

Simple it's called 'baksheesh........ 8)
"The Salvation of Mankind lies in making everything the responsibility of All"
Sophocles.

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Re: Balloon

Post by Mad Dilys »

In the tourist industry presumptions can sometimes, just sometimes be misleading. for example one companies 5* is another's 3*.

Tourist companies usually do their own hotel inspections regardless of the regulations pertaining to hotels in any country in which they may sell holidays.

The fact is the UK inspectors had completed the office inspection at the award winning company and decided to inspect all the other companies' paperwork, then their equipment and finally flights.

So having collected details, but not making a decision on the first company they moved on then suddenly left left and Thomson stopped selling any flights because the inspection was incomplete and they were prevented from continuing as before.

Thomson travells to many countries beside Egypt and I should imagine that they have "blanket" policies covering all aspects of their business which have to be adhered to never mind the local policies.

I am not saying that the Insurers thought anything about the ECAA - I am saying that their policy is to make their own inspections and when they were prevented from doing that - then they stopped selling balloon flights. As far as I can discover they do not direct sell Hot Air Balloon Flights now anywhere in the world and I'm not sure if they sold them anywhere else in the world at any time.

Certainly no other Hot Air Balloon Company won a gold medal for excellence.
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