In 2020, the BEA published nine reports concerning balloon accidents.
Two topics are particularly dominant in these reports:
1. Injuries to passengers during landing
Six published reports concern injuries to passengers during hard landings or landings where the basket tipped over. During these landings, six people were seriously injured and three people were injured.
A balloon flight is often seen by uninformed passengers as an activity which is inherently not dangerous, and they may not be aware that the landing can sometimes be dynamic. Touchdown can prove rough, in particular when there is a strong wind or during an emergency descent with a high vertical speed. In these conditions, passengers may be surprised and their physical capabilities may be exceeded.
The Fédération d’Aérostation (French aerostation federation) is giving thought as to how to improve the awareness of people who wish to perform a hot-air balloon flight in order to get them to consider, in particular, whether their physical condition is compatible with a balloon flight.
The following occurrences illustrate the “dynamic” nature that a balloon landing can sometimes have:
• F-HOAX on 7 July 2019 at Puimoisson.
• F-HGAY on 8 June 2019 at Vernosc-lès-Annonay.
• F-HMIG on 24 September 2018 at Estaires.
• F-GPFB on 23 March 2019 at Doissat.
• F-HURE on 20 September 2019 at Saint-Denis-sur-Loire.
• F-HPIM on 19 July 2020 at Vitrai-sous-L'Aigle.
Furthermore, the report concerning the accident to F-HJAP on 2 June 2019 at Pons illustrates the risk of the pilot being ejected when not wearing an appropriate restraint system.
2. Collision with an obstacle during a landing
Two accidents were the result of the balloon envelope colliding with a power line during the landing. It can be difficult for a balloon pilot to identify all the obstacles present in the area selected for the landing. In one case, the pilot had identified a first power line but had not seen that the poles also carried a second line.
The presence of power lines is not always mentioned on the maps.
The report concerning the accident to F-HDBC on 28 August 2013 at Belfort illustrates this difficulty.
Similar occurrence published in 2020:
• F-HEMA on 12 January 2020 at Davézieux.