Balloon Repair Station

News 25.06.17

Bits you might have missed

News update10.04.17 was all about Cameron Manual updates which have been incorporated in the pages section. The following documents have been issued or revised and are available in full on the Cameron Balloons website.

Hot Air Balloon Flight Manual, Issue 10 has gone to revision 14. This revision has revised the applicability of the Flight Manual to include Lindstrand envelopes. This means that Camerons will no longer be updating the Lindstrand Flight Manual. Quite understandable. Lindstrand envelopes are now contained in supplement 8.46. Revision 14 also adds a Pilot Restraint Harness to the minimum equipment for baskets having a separate pilot compartment. Minimum equipment is something oft overlooked by many and advice should be given.

Maintenance Manual Supplement 7.41 has now been issued and is all about the Sofie Safire Burner, so clearly some are now in service.

Lindstrand Balloons Maintenance Manual Supplement No 6 gives alternative repair materials and has been updated to include burner and fuel system parts. Pretty straightforward.

The Sky Flight Manual has been updated to revision 11, which adds the aforementioned Pilot Restraint Harness to the minimum equipment for baskets having a separate pilot compartment.

Service Letter 3 which is the notification of the Rotax Alert Service Bulletin which has been issued. It is only relevant to airship owners/operators Rotax being an engine what balloons don’t, or rather should not,have! Very simply put by Mr Boxall at Cameron Balloons Ltd, ‘It seems that Rotax carburettor floats have started sinking’. Not good!

Cameron SB 25 updated to SB25-2
News Update 12.06.2017 was published in response to the Issue of Service Bulletin SB 25 and is available in full under the above title and is published after this so if you’ve already read it apologies and skip to something Kubicek. Since then the SB has been updated to SB25-2 effectively saying they can no longer be used unless they have been tested by Lindstrand Balloons within the last five years. Now this has caused a bit of a furore to say the least. Cameron Balloons have defended this amendment by publishing an extract in the form of a JPG of a bit of the approval which had been lost. No date, reference number or sight of the complete document has been seen outside of Camerons, by all accounts. There is confusion surrounding the requirement to take the cylinders back to Lindstrand every five years. We have dug into all the records, TCDSs, Inspection Schedules and associated bumf we have to see if we could throw any light on the matter. Basically over the years the requirements for inspecting both externally and internally and proof pressure testing have gone from an initial at 15 years and every five thereafter through, initially at 10 years and every five years thereafter to finally initially 10 years and every 10 thereafter. There is a wealth of paperwork and references existing in the form of LBL Maintenance Manuals, Inspection Schedules (both LBL and BBAC), TCDSs, PPT Testing facility and inspector requirements and instructions for carrying out inspections and testing which make absolutely no differentiation between the types of Lindstrand cylinder. Cameron Balloons, which did produce other approved Titanium cylinders, make no distinction between types with regard to their testing or inspection. We have enough stuff to make a pretty reasoned case, I hope, which I will spare you from lest you fall asleep in your tea.

Looking at SB 25-2, historically, we are inclined to look at the old documents we have and the requirement as described in the TCDSs for Lindstrand types held by Cameron Balloons Ltd as laid out in the BBAC Maintenance Schedule 1-K and the older LBL Maintenance Manuals including the last one issued by them LBL MM 1.9 none of which specify cylinder types as far as Pressure Testing is concerned. The old BBAC MPs were superceded by the new MP/02100/P which at 4.12 states that 'Pressure vessels are to be maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations'. Cameron Balloons Ltd have their own MPs but use the same format as the BBAC. Easy Balloon MPs use the same phraseology. We have never found any problems with the Flite cylinders and certainly none have failed the pressure test. Attach that to the current requirements as specified in LBL MM 1.9 then we believe that the LBL titanium cylinders, certainly since November 2008 have been inspected and tested correctly. I would argue that in the past they were also tested correctly. SB 25-2 is, like SB 25, Highly Recommended, not Mandatory. The CAA have been asked to see if they can find the approval records of the T30 cylinders and the BBAC is planning a meeting with Cameron Balloons to discuss the matter and determine if a solution can be found. We hope very much that it can.

News update Cameron Balloons SB 25 Lindstrand Titanium Cylinders
Cameron Balloons Limited have issued a Service Bulletin SB25 advising owners of Russian-built titanium cylinders that they should be removed from service. Please be fully aware that this Service Bulletin is ‘Highly Recommended’, not ‘Mandatory’, so the note sent from Cameron Balloons stating ‘This bulletin withdraws the Lindstrand T30 titanium fuel cylinder from service’ is not really politically accurate. If you own Russian built Titanium cylinders then you can decide if you wish to continue using them or not. You can, should you choose, continue to use them. Cameron Balloons cannot issue an EASA Mandatory statement so what they are actually saying is that it is ‘Highly Recommended’ that they are removed from service. It is categorically not Mandatory to remove them from service! If EASAland decide that this ought to be Mandatory then it will become an EASA Airworthiness Directive but Cameron Balloons cannot issue something that is Mandatory so, at the moment, it is not. In the future, if an EASA AD is not issued, then if Cameron Balloons Ltd have safety concerns they could include it in an Inspection Schedule. At present this remains ‘Highly Recommended’ and not ‘Mandatory’ so you do not have to remove them from service.

What the current state of affairs is that Cameron Balloons, who are responsible for the upkeep of airworthiness stuff for Lindstrand Balloons Ltd, is that they can find no evidence that the fatigue life of the cylinders, 1000 fuelling cycles, has ever been assessed and that they, understandably, think that many of these cylinders may have exceeded that criteria. Put sensibly, this means that, in the field, those cylinders that ‘may have exceeded the criteria’ have not failed resulting an uncontrolled release of propane’. If you have an affected Lindstrand titanium cylinder then, if it has exceeded the 1000 cycle mark, then perhaps you ought to think about retiring it. This is your choice. It is categorically not ‘Mandatory’. Most private balloons do between ten and thirty hours a year. At that rate, not assuming that the cylinders that ‘may’ have exceeded 1000 refills have not developed any faults, then your cylinder ought to be good for a 1000 refills or, put another way, at least a minimum of 30 years. We have looked at, inspected and proof pressure tested, well in excess of 35 LBL titanium cylinders and found no faults or indications of failure. Lindstrand Balloons Ltd, a couple of years back, did take such ‘unapproved’ cylinders and re-test them including X-raying which then ‘certified’ them. We have no issue with that. If you have a Lindstrand titanium cylinder that did not get certified under the scheme then you ought to have a bit of a think. Cameron Balloons did recall all their early Titanium cylinders and re-proofed them so nothing new there. See Cameron Balloons SB8, now closed.

Reading the Service Bulletin 25 we would say it is, at best, poorly written and, at worst, a bit of a heads up that Cameron Balloons Limited do not wish to take responsibility for something that protocol and history would indicate is not quite up to par, which is fair enough. To this end we would re-iterate that the Cameron SB25 is ‘Highly Recommended’ and their statement that ‘For this reason Cameron Balloons has issued Service Bulletin 25 withdrawing these cylinders from service. This bulletin requires immediate action’ is not the wording they should have used and, as it is ‘Highly Recommended’, nor is it accurate. They cannot withdraw it from service under a Service Bulletin as it stands. They can only advise that it is ‘Highly Recommended’ that it is removed from service.

For those that own the affected cylinders we would say that unless you think they have gone over 1000 refills then continue to use them. For those that think they may have gone over the 1000 refills then either get them proof pressure tested or, if they were done recently, then perhaps go for another test in five years. There is currently no evidence to suggest that they will fail but equally it would appear that they have never been subjected to the 1000 cycle test. They were made by a company in Russia that was part of their Space Programme and imported directly from that company. They were supplied to both Cameron Balloons and Lindstrand Balloons under various names such as Aeroecology and Flite Cylinders.

Personally speaking I have never been a fan of titanium. I grant you it is very strong and, if treated properly, quite nice stuff, I have some in my leg, however it can be pretty unstable and is prone to not getting on with other metals so should be treated with respect. In a fire it will burn, however I don’t have a problem with titanium cylinders and would fly with them whoever the manufacturer. This Service Bulletin is not Mandatory so if you have them and wish to continue to use them, you can. For inspectors, if they pass the requirements for inspection then they will remain airworthy but it is at the discretion of the inspector and the owner. Should you need any further advice, or need to vent your anger, please give us a call. Please be aware that it may, in time, like the CBL SB 23.0 LBL valve stems (which hasn’t yet) become an EASA Airworthiness Directive or get included in the Cameron Inspection Schedule (which they haven’t…..yet).

Kubicek TCDS, Flight and Maintenance Manual updates
Blow me down if Kubicek haven’t gone for a grand slam and issued Edition 3 of their Flight and Maintenance Manuals which now cover BB-type Kubicek Balloons regardless of their serial number and, in support of that, Kubicek BB balloons TCDS went to BA.003 issue 35 on 15/05/17. According to the TCDS older manuals can still be used.

Kubicek Service Bulletin BB/51 - Ignis Burner bracket - Issued
Kubicek Balloons have recently issued BB/51 26 May 2017) covering the failure of the centre bracket on their range of Ignis double burners. It applies to all Kubicek and Aerotechnik balloons using Ignis double burners with serial numbers from 300-301 up to 469-470 and all hot-air balloons produced by any other manufacturer utilising Ignis doubles burners within the same serial number range. (s/n 300-301 up to 469-470). Cracks in the weld at the ends of the journal where the centre clamp is mounted have been found. The affected brackets require replacement before May 31 2018. The Service Bulletin is Mandatory. When ordering replacement brackets please quote the serial number of the burners. For further information contact Kubicek Balloons info@kubicekballoons.cz

CAA Job Vacancy
This may be worth a thought but you’ll need to be quick. The CAA General Aviation Unit have advertisements out at the moment for 2 GA Policy Officers within GAU. That translates to ‘General Aviation’ and the aforementioned ‘General Aviation Unit’. The job description is, ‘This role reports to the GA Policy Manager, and will support the development and delivery of defined aspects of policy and guidance in respect of aircraft, pilots and operators within the scope of the GA Unit, ensuring that all policy and advice is proportionate, practicable and in accordance with the GA Policy Framework. The role also supports the development and implementation of proportionate, risk-based National and European regulations and guidance in the broadly non-commercial operation of non-complex civil aircraft’. Now you don’t get much more non-complex than a balloon! The link at the end (if it works) takes you to the CAA Careers website with the VN (which refers to the reference number VN1294). Sponduliks? A cool £45,570 per annum. They are keen to get applications from the widest section of the GA community possible. The closing date is currently 30 June 2017 so in theory not much time for people to see and consider applying for the job but Mark Shortman from the CAA is open to individuals contacting him if they are interested and need a bit more time to make their application. For more information contact Mark Shortman at Mark.Shortman@caa.co.uk
https://www.caacareers.com/jobs/general-aviation-policy-officer

Hot air airship crash at US Opens
Nearly didn’t get to hear about the Gefa-Flug hot air airship that failed in flight during the opening of the first round of the US Open Golf Tournament at Erin Hills, Wisconsin on June 15th 2017. The airship appeared to deflate and crumple up before coming to the ground in plume of smoke. The tail section remained inflated slowing the descent, which certainly saved the pilot, Trevor Thompson, (the only person aboard) who was taken to hospital suffering from serious burns which were described as ‘not life threatening’. He is expected to recover, according to the Florida-based operator, Air Sign. On impact the fire is reported to have spread rapidly, destroying the craft. Patrick Walsh, president of Air Sign stated that the pilot was wearing a fire-proof suit but received 40% burns in the accident. Early reports had said that people were seen to parachute from the airship but that was not the case. It is not yet known what caused the envelope to fail but the National Transportation Safety Board has started an investigation. In a news conference, Air Safety Investigator Pamela Sullivan said that ‘Thompson said that he had reached an altitude of 1,000 feet when he noticed that the winds were too strong. During his descent he heard panels rip from the blimp, then his airship pitched nose down. The envelope of the airship collapsed and caught fire from the burners, which still burned residual fuel after the pilot shut them off.’

https://www.wired.com/story/blimp-crash-airship-us-open/. https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/3809362/us-open-blimp-catches-fire-and-crashes-at-erin-hills-as-people-parachute-to-the-ground/

Cameron job vacancies
Up on their website Cameron Balloons are advertising a few vacancies. They are currently looking for a full-time Mechanical Engineer, a part-time Administration Secretary and two full-time sewing machinists. So, if you fancy getting a foot in the door in the hot air balloon industry, quite a rare thing, then you need to contact them pdq. For full details and how to apply check out the Articles bit on their website. The article was posted on 19th June 2017 but appears a long way down! For more details email enquiries@cameronballoons.co.uk
http://www.cameronballoons.co.uk/news/interested-in-joining-cameron-balloons

Unmanned aircraft regulations drone on
More legislation is set to head the way of drone operators, however the Consultation Period for the EASA driven legislation has been extended. From the horse’s mouth so’s to speak, ‘Please note that according to Article 7.5 of Management Board Decision No 18-2015, the consultation period of NPA 2017-05 (A) 'Introduction of a regulatory framework for the operation of drones - Unmanned aircraft system operations in the open & specific category' has been extended until 15 Sep 2017’.
If you want to have a gander at it and place comments you’ll need to use the automated Comment-Response Tool (CRT) available at http://hub.easa.europa.eu/crt.

Transportation of Lithium batteries published
Just to let you know that EASA have published ‘SIB 2017-04 - Safety Information Bulletin: Safety Precautions Regarding the Transport by air by passengers of Portable Electronic Devices containing Lithium Batteries’, for your delectation. To see the details of this Publication go to http://ad.easa.europa.eu/ad/2017-04.

CAA launch a New Skyway Code
The CAA have launched a New Skyway Code offering General Aviation pilots a one stop shop for safety rules and advice. Don’t recall the old one but reading on this is a new online guide to private flying rules, regulations and best practice. The Skyway Code is designed to provide private pilots with quick and easy access to key information and condenses 'must know' information on UK GA flying into ‘an easy to navigate PDF’. Started get lost there for a moment! The guide includes illustrations throughout and as well as covering regulations, includes examples of radio phraseology, tables to work out crosswind components and ground marshalling signals. It will be updated annually to include key updates, and amendments will be available at www.caa.co.uk/skywaycode. It is actually quite a useful publication and naturally has a number, CAP1535S, in case the link doesn’t work. All very basic it makes for a simple quick reference source despite its 163 pages. Mostly aimed at powered flight certain areas are clearly aimed at all, such as understanding met reports and basic rules of the air. I’m sure it will evolve in due course providing the CAA manage to maintain the resources to update it. Comments and suggestions on the content of the guide are welcome and should be sent to ga@caa.co.uk. Incidentally it would make a nice booklet and to that end you can download it and print it orf!!

Clarity Clarence on Eurotunnel gas requirements
Following the ‘bouncing off’ by Eurotunnel of a balloon team heading for the Continent, Eurotunnel have clarified their stance on carrying gas. The rules are that customers can transport 47kg of flammable gas per container and up to a maximum of 50kg per vehicle if more than one container. There is no restriction on the number of cylinders a customer transports if they are empty and have been cleaned (as in purged). Any simply empty or part empty cylinders will be considered to be full unless they have been purged. To be accepted for Carriage a cleaning certificate must be produced, which can be checked at the appropriate checkpoint. If you are carrying gas then you must declare it. Helium cylinders and fire extinguishers can be carried. If you are carrying petrol cans they must be full. Eurotunnel’s "Policy on Hazardous Goods" can be found at https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/site-information/the-carriage-of-dangerous-and-hazardous-goods/.

Ultramagic Supplement updated
Ultramagic have updated Flight Manual Supplement 19, ‘Other manufacturer’s equipment’, to Issue 11. There are a few changes to the equipment lists in it including the addition of a Cameron 66x79 basket and the Mk4 Single Shadow burner. Now I have to say that Ultramagic’s description of other manufacturers’ equipment, although helpful in its vagueness, is rather confusing. One day all the manufacturers may decide to use measurements or part numbers to describe baskets.

Not that we normally keep abreast of US versions of Flight Manuals but Ultramagic have updated the US Flight Manual twice, firstly to Edition 04 Revision 6 then quickly up a notch to Revision 7. No idea what the changes are. For further information contact Ultramagic email techinfo@ultramagic.com.

Fire And First Aid Course
The next Fire and First Aid course being run by Justin Lane at Bristol Safety Ltd is planned for Friday 15th September and aimed at CPLs and Crews. It is actually a pretty good idea to attend even if there is no mandatory reason to do so. The subjects are presented and taught in a clear straightforward manner with demonstrations and practical sessions. Highly Recommended. Full details from Justin Lane CertEd GIFireE, Training Co-ordinator, Bristol Safety Ltd. Telephone +44 (0)7709 460992, email jlane@bristolsafety.co.uk or visit their website at www.bristolsafety.co.uk.

Another Turkish Balloon Accident
On the 9th April it was reported that a ride balloon operating in the popular Cappadocia region of Turkey hit a powerline resulting in the death of a French tourist and injuring seven others. In a statement Turkey's Ministry of Transport said ‘the balloon was carrying 20 passengers, including six foreigners, when it hit the electric line during its descent in Cappadocia due to adverse wind conditions. A French citizen lost his life and seven people, four of them Turkish and three foreigners, were injured’. 81 hot air balloons we reported as flying on the day of the accident. Pictures showed a pylon tower bent in half as a result of the collision with the cables.

Hot air balloon tours had been suspended from the previous Wednesday due to bad weather but resumed on the Saturday with the permission of Civil Aviation Authority, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. There have been a series of accidents this year in Cappadocia that have made the news including the death of a Danish tourist in February when a balloon made a hard landing, and 49 people were injured in March when three balloons made hard landings amid strong winds.

Chinese hot air airship on eBay
Laugh? I nearly bought it! Luckily I read the rules of eBay stuck on my computer first! ‘Am I pissed? Is it after midnight? Do I need it? Can I afford it? Described as a ‘Hot air Balloon with 2 petrol engines, make Bombadier has 2 gas burners for the balloon, 4 seats the body is made of aluminium it took part in the Commune Aerostatique Luxembourg there is a sticker on the side unfortunately the balloon is missing but everything else is there any questions ring delivery is possible. I asked Bishy if he had any info on it but drew a blank. Amazingly this pile of stuff only made £84.99. Maybe I should have put a bid on it.

Laser Attack
Rather worryingly a UK balloon pilot and his two passengers were recently subjected to a laser attack from the ground. The incident occurred in the area of Knockholt Pound, Kent. This was subsequently reported to the CAA in the form of a MOR. This is the correct action to take however it is also the case that laser attacks on aircraft are deemed to be criminal offences and so any such incident must also be reported to the civilian police.

Look lively - Short notice Armed Forces Day Meet
Free camping, free gas, free entry ought to do it. The Pennine Region have been invited back to take part in the Armed Forces Day celebrations in Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire over the weekend of the 30th June to 2nd July. The town is absolutely alive with armed forces personnel, displays, parades, stalls, air displays (it said goodbye to the Vulcan two years ago) and to top it all, has all the usual good old seaside town fun. On offer is a secure (and free) camp site with shower/toilet facilities and in exchange for the free gas, they have been asked to do a bit of a night glow display. If you fancy a fine old day then please complete a registration form on their website www.prba.org.uk

Good as his word
Following on from his article on classic Jap bikes, Steve Roake has followed his dream and acquired a rather nice Kawasaki Z650. He turned up on it the other day and I have to say that it was really rather nice. It is very 1980 on a ‘W’ making it a rather alarming 36 years old! I thought it was quite new really. It needs a bit of tlc here and there but is very straight and remarkably small by today's plastic hi-tech standards. The chrome is all pretty good. Steve reckons it will take a few tubes of Autosol to get it perfect. Apart from buying and selling a couple of Japanese bikes and having a go on a Fireblade which frightened me senseless I’ve not had much to do with them but I could like one of these.

Ultramagic produce survival bag
A gripe we constantly have about Ultramagic is the size, even when packed away, of their Mk21 burners. It’s the frame you see, all praying mantis like. Its somewhat obvious if you have a burner and frame that large then you need an equally big burner bag to put it in and big burner bags is what you get. So big in fact that our John has a problem seeing over the top of them. They are well padded though making them a comfy spot to have a kip in. Thing is that you could get quite a few Illegal immigrants in one of these so beware, check the burner bag before entering the docks! In case you are wondering, which you probably aren’t, which burner packs the flattest then it’s the Kubicek Ignis. The bag for them just about makes a comfy cushion!

The Yarrow Balloon
After quite a few years of being asked if he made curtains John has finally built a balloon. In the days of Thermal Aircraft it was always a dream of Tony Patey to build a balloon but despite the plans being drawn up it never happened. More recently, with the resurgence of the home-built brigade, the idea has been somewhat reconsidered. In the quiet months at the beginning of the year John decided that he would have a crack at knitting a model balloon. He set about the worldwide web and researched patterns and designs somewhat thoroughly and in the end scaled up a pattern that looked good, sorted some fabric from Mr Tim and set about sewing the bits together. Now, thing is, he reckoned on it taking a fair while to cut it all out and sew it together but truth is it was done in a flash, then he went on holiday! I came in on the Tuesday to find a note stuck in the top of a bag of fabric. We blew it up in the workshop as outside gales and rain reigned supreme. Back from his holidays he asked Neil Ivison if he would inflate it for him using a model bottom end. When he and Andy Austin came down for an inspection they gave it a go but it was a tad windy and only a horizontal inflation was achieved so away it went in the care of Mr Ivison and a calm day. Well long and short was that it was rather good and Neil decided it was just the thing for him so it hasn’t come back! Next up better be a full-sized jobbie then.

Rosie does the Jet Provost
Every year the Halton Ride is held on and around Halton Airfield and the Jet Provost, as we have probably explained before, is the jump that everyone wants to be photographed going over, through, stuck on or falling off at! This year our Mary took my horse’s offspring Rosie for her first attempt at it. She took Rosie round early on and she had a fine old time completing the 50 jumps on the seven mile course in fine form. Later she did the course again on Texas this time in the company of grand-daughter Holly who has been practising all year for the event. True to form Holly on Treasure cleared the JP, as reported last time, and got her picture took and went into the history books. Mary was so intent on watching out for her she nearly didn’t! Had to laugh. Sadly this may have been one of the last Halton Rides as the base is set to close completely by 2022. The fate of the Jet Provost jump is unsure but there are rumours that it will be moved to another well-known cross-country course and continue as a jump.

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