Balloon Repair Station

Easy News 06.08.12

Bristol set fair
At the risk of getting blamed for bad weather the long-range forecast for the Bristol Balloon Fiesta is looking extremely promising. Kicking off on the 9th August and running to the 12th there s a load of stuff going on. It is expected that quite a few Old and Rusty shapes will be inflating including the Colt Flying Mitt G-WCAT and Baby Bel G-BXUG. If you want to see lots of balloons this is the place to go. The very comprehensive website gives all the details and is at www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk/.

Airworthiness Directive covering all makes issued.
EASA have issued a wide ranging Airworthiness Directive, AD 2012-0142, in connection with Female Acme Thread Connectors manufactured by Lindstrand Balloons. This involves all Lindstrand connectors manufactured between 1st January 2011 and 1st September 2011.

For further information earlier Lindstrand Service Bulletin N° 12 dated 10 February 2012 refers more fully. The use of later approved revisions of this document is acceptable for compliance with the requirements of this AD.
Affected balloons are those manufactured by Altisphair, Ballons Libert, Ballonservice & Technik, Balony Kubicek, Cameron Balloons, Lindstrand Balloons, Llopis Balloons, Schroeder Fire Balloons and Ultramagic. To see the definitive list and for full details of the publication go to http://ad.easa.europa.eu/ad/2012-0142. The first bit covers all the affected balloon types. At the bottom are two attachments. If you click on the pdf one (easa_ad_2012_0142.pdf ) the AD comes up in full.

If you have fitted a new female Rego fitting supplied by Lindstrand Balloons after 01 January then you must check it for leaks. The leak is an internal one resulting from an insufficient tightening of the front nipple component and the stainless steel rear adaptor. Technical information on the rectification of the leak can be found as part of the original Lindstrand SB12.

If your balloon is not affected by AD 2012-0142 then a statement to that fact should be made in the back of the logbook under ‘Mandatory Requirements not applicable’. The reason would be ‘affected parts not fitted’.

Safety Information Bulletins Issued
Two Balloon related Safety Information Bulletins (SIBs) have just been issued and make for interesting reading! You can comment on these by emailing the Safety Information Section, Executive Directorate, EASA at ADs@easa.europa.eu. We did!

SIB 2012-13 Improved protection of balloon basket occupants during firm landings, Although a general reminder to fully brief passengers, awareness of the added danger to frail passengers and also the use of a padded floor and jackets (for the cylinders obviously!!), amongst other things, it interestingly suggests the use of grab rails attached around the inside of the basket rather than the traditional handles. “Balloon manufacturers are encouraged to offer solid handles or grip bars to allow the passengers a facilitated posture of their bodies”. Quite how they should be fitted and if they would need to be padded, remains to be seen. Fair enough for the reminder but it seems they are digging up the study done a few years ago on passenger safety in balloons based on some rather limited information.
To see the details of this Publication go to http://ad.easa.europa.eu/ad/2012-13

SIB 2012-14 Safety Information Bulletin: ‘Improving the safety of aiders on the ground when relocating an inflated hot air balloon’. Emanating from a German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Investigation report 3X155-09, this is a brilliant read and actually has a photo of, probably, a Zeppelin Airship ground crew demonstrating the correct way to operate the new EASA recommended spider handling line. We haven’t tried it yet but will do in the near future. EASA state ‘Balloon manufacturers should be contacted by pilots or owners whether they offer a ready-for-use spider’.
To see the details of this Publication go to http://ad.easa.europa.eu/ad/2012-14

Safety Sense Leaflet 15c on Wake Turbulence updated
The CAA Safety Sense Leaflet on Wake Vortex (Turbulence) has been revised and up-dated. This informative little brochure outlines the dangers of wake turbulence. To be honest if a Tornado jet roars past you it isn’t going to be much help apart from letting you know you will be splatted and as balloons don’t generate wake turbulence (apart from creating thermals on occasions) it isn’t directed at us but it does make it clear why you should always be wary of crossing approach or take-off paths to airfields, even if given clearance by the Air Traffic Control (ATC). There have been incidents involving balloons and wake turbulence in the past whilst under the control of the ATC. Remember vortex spacing is the responsibility of the pilot however, the recommended distance will be taken into account by the ATC when giving clearance to a balloon but not the Aerodrome Flight Information Service Officer (AFISO) or Air/Ground Service. As a balloon normally can’t alter the spacing if you are concerned that an aircraft is getting too close contact the ATC. It is important therefore to report any incidents involving wake turbulence encounters and the procedure can be found in Part 8 of the leaflet which can viewed at http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=33&pagetype=65&appid=11&mode=detail&id=1169.

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