Four years after two devastating hot-air balloon crashes – including one that killed two women in South Surrey – recommendations aimed at addressing a “lack of adequate standards and regulations” in the industry have yet to be implemented.
“Simply put, not enough has been done,” writes Wendy Tadros, chair of the Transportation Safety Board, in her report, Balloon Safety Too Often Left Up in the Air.
According to Tadros, basic risks have caused 15 reported balloon incidents since 1997 – including one at Hazelmere RV Park & Campground in 2007 that killed a Langley mother and daughter and injured 11 others.
Following the tragedy, the TSB made two recommendations to Transport Canada, Tadros notes: ensure that passenger-carrying balloons provide a level of safety equal to that required for other passenger-carrying aircraft; and, ensure such balloons have an emergency shut-off valve.
Tadros notes that while the regulator has promised a “risk assessment” of hot-air balloon operations, the process “can take years.”
Transport Canada spokesperson Melanie Quesnel said by email that the department is speeding up its regulatory process “to implement aviation regulatory actions at a quicker rate in response to recommendations from the TSB.”
Quesnel notes Transport Canada’s previous response to the recommendations were deemed satisfactory by the board, and that efforts are ongoing to make improvements to existing regulations.
The department has no legal obligation to act on board recommendations.