Now one and all, just chill. Its bad but not that bad. Having nearly arrived before the balloon, riding the flexirigids like whotshisface in Dr Strangelove, I can say, hand on heart, that a pilot restraint is not a bad thing especially if you don’t have turning vents…Yee Ha! Anyway having boiled me brain trying to fully grasp pages of rules and regs and BOPS and BAS (who we drink with on Fridays) I can honestly say that the Balloon Rule Book is a step in the right direction but only because it tries to explain the inexplicable (actually it doesn't). The pictures with this are to chill the mind, make you feel loved and that it is to be taken notice of… ”Whatever.” as youngest daughter says.
The famous 8 April 2019 will be remembered as the day legislation went mad with the contents of EASA Balloon Rule Book coming into full force. Actually that is not quite accurate as it is actually the introduction of EASA Part BOP. Initial take on this was that when the Rule Book was initially studied it all didn’t seem too bad but in reality it is dreadful. Still, never mind, as with most things (all things) EASA their mind is made up. Love it and live with it.
For Private Balloonists there are a few things that need a bit of clarification, not least what is required to be carried in the basket. We’ll start here then. In all the manufacturers Flight Manuals (FM) there is a list of Safety Equipment that must be carried. Now just to confuse you before we start you may not be flying on the latest Edition of the Flight Manual, however we will consider the latest versions. If you fly a balloon with mixed equipment then you will be needing the FM of the bottom end used as well as the envelope, so you may have to look at two or even three FMs. This first bit will only look at the manufacturer’s requirements. Armed with this you can go compare BOP with what you should already to be carrying, and I’m sure you will!
Cameron Balloons Ltd.
We put this to the kids and they had a good old chat about stuff and came up with this but, I have to say, the reference to Old Tom Cobbly made no sense. In Cameron Balloons FM 10-16 at 2.6 can be found ‘SAFETY EQUIPMENT (MINIMUM EQUIPMENT)’
The following minimum equipment must be carried:
1. Protective gloves must be available to the pilot.
2. Matches or other independent means of ignition in addition to any igniters built into the burner.
3. A hand fire extinguisher.
4. A rate of climb and descent indicator (variometer) where required (Refer to Section 2.10).
5. An envelope temperature indicator which may either be of the continuous reading type or a type which gives a warning signal.
6. For baskets having a separate pilot compartment, there must be a suitable restraint for the pilot.
All minimum equipment must be functional.
The size of fire extinguisher is not specified. In Section 2.10 a vario needs to be carried on balloons where a specified max rate of climb and descent is specified so on balloons up to 105,000cu ft it is not required but on balloons over 105,000cu ft specific figures are given so one needs to be carried. An envelope temperature indicator may be a temperature link and flag. If it falls out and lands in the burner then you will certainly have a ‘warning signal’.
Looking in the Maintenance Manual (MM) 10-4 at 6.5, the Inspection Schedule, at 188.8.131.52 it does specify that a fire extinguisher is present and maintained to the manufacturers’ instructions. It also states Quick Release, Pilots Restraint and instruments (if present) need inspecting but going to secret squirrel 6.6.6, there it states ‘Ancillary equipment (If fitted)’ covering the launch restraint, restraint harness and instruments. If a restraint harness anchor is fitted then it needs inspecting regardless of the presence of a pilot restraint.
There is nothing specific about the supply and fitting of Restraint harness anchors however in the Inspection Schedule it does state, ‘Check load tape anchors for wear or damage. Check the basket stakes that the anchor is attached to for security and freedom from fracture. For U-bolt anchors, check the U-bolt for deformation check the condition and security of the nuts and the condition of the floor around the fitting. On under batten anchors check the condition of the batten and the D-ring’. This gives some idea of the positioning and type of anchors used. Further information from Cameron is expected as there is a wide range of fixings in Cameron baskets.
Lindstrand Balloons Ltd
The latest FM is 1.46 and it is fundamentally the same as all the others. Well sweet so chill out fellows, you are on a winner. Lindstrand didn’t have a minimum equipment list as such but in ‘Pre-Flight Checks’ it does state that two sources of ignition need to be present, the fire extinguisher should be charged (if used) and instruments (if used) onboard. Lindstrand do specify a maximum rate of climb and descent so a vario would be needed.
As Cameron Balloons now look after Lindstrand Balloons Ltd then the Inspection Schedule, as the latest version of the Maintenance Manual (LBL 1.10) has to be used it is now the same items as in Cameron Inspection Schedule need inspecting.
Ultramagic Balloons S.A.
In Ultramagic Balloons latest Flight Manual Issue 4 Amendment 24, they have their Safety Equipment (Minimum equipment) list at 2.4.
All of the following equipment must be in fully working order and must be carried
in the balloon basket.
1 One fire extinguisher of 2 kg (or two of 1 kg) conform to EN3 which use dry powder or with an approved equivalent level of safety.
2 Sufficient auxiliary means of ignition (matches, lighter or similar).
3 Protective gloves for the pilot.
4 An envelope temperature indicator, which either gives a warning signal or a continuous reading type instrument.
5 Fuel gauges on each cylinder.
6 A means of measuring fuel consumption (e.g. watch or stop watch) must be
8 Variometer to measure rate of climb and descent.
On flights when it is intended to climb higher than 300 m (1000ft), an ambient temperature thermometer and a load chart provided by the manufacturer must be
available at the take-off site.
In the Maintenance Manual (Issue 4 revision 18) Inspection Schedule items to be inspected are the Fire Extinguisher and, where fitted, Occupant Restraint Harness, Quick Release and Instruments.
Details for fitting the restraint harness attachment point is detailed in the MM at 3.10 and the fittings must come from Ultramagic. In the case of the Tekno baskets, the corners of the lower frame can be used. Horizontal, that’s the Spanish.
Kubicek now have just one Flight Manual the latest being B3102 Edition 3 rev2. Their Minimum Equipment List is at 2.5 and is pretty comprehensive.
The following list of equipment must be carried on every flight:
Altimeter and variometer.
Envelope temperature indicator. This may be either one that gives a direct reading or one that gives a warning signal (temperature streamer attached with a melting link).
Two sources of ignition. Matches or striker, or similar source in addition to piezo ignitors built into the burner.
Drop line of length at least 25m (82 ft).
An accurate time piece displaying time in hours, minutes and seconds.
Items used to determine drift direction (e.g. compass, map...)
First aid kit.
Protective gloves for the pilot and crew.
Oxygen supply (supplemental oxygen storage and dispensing apparatus) for high altitudes flights - see 2.26
Checking the Maintenance Manual (B.3202 Edition 3) and the Inspection Schedule at 7.13 and 7.14, the Fire Extinguisher must be ‘Full and maintained according to the manufacturers instructions’. The quick Release, Pilots Restraint and Instruments are to be inspected if present. There is nothing specific to the anchor points however all the Kubicek baskets we have ever seen have had anchor points fitted.
Lindstrand Technologies Limited
LTL current FM 8.4 lists Minimum Equipment at 2.1.11
The following list of equipment must be carried on every flight:
Protective Gloves for Pilot (made of natural fibres and provide heat protection)
Secondary Source of Ignition
Fuel Gauge on Each Cylinder
Watch (Time Piece)
First Aid Kit
A total of 2kg Fire Extinguisher conforming to EN3
Envelope Temperature Indicator (Temperature Flag)
In their current Maintenance Manual (MM 7.1) the Inspection Schedule includes Strikers (second source of ignition) and Fire extinguisher. No details are given with regards to the pilot restraint anchor point or its fitting. If they fit them as standard, fine. If they don’t well, give them a shout.
Schroeder Fire Balloons
Frighteningly Schroeder list stuff in their minimum equipment that we, or EASA hadn't even thought of. Amazing they get airborne! The current Schroeder Flight Manual, Ed2016 Amendment 4 (Aug2018) lists Minimum Equipment under 2.7.5.
For flights during the day according to visual flight rules, the following minimum equipment is required:
3. Fire extinguisher, 2 kg, according to DIN EN 3
5. Envelope thermometer*
6. Pressure gauge for each burner
7. First aid kit, DIN 13164 or 13157
8. Cutting knife
9. One alternative ignition source (e. g. storm matches)
10. One pair of fire resistant gloves
* - combined in e.g. one flight instrument (see appendix B)
Furthermore for baskets with more than 10 occupants:
1. A second first-aid-kit
2. Second pair of fire resistant gloves
3. Fire blanket according to DIN 14155 is required when commercially licensed.
b) Additionally for night flights, the required balloon illumination with a sufficient energy source, a strong battery lamp (minimum one), torch for reading the instruments and the map.
Items requiring inspection as listed in the MM English Iss1 Am1 are:
Altimeter/rate of climb/descent indicator (combined device)
Fire extinguisher, Fire blanket, First aid kit, Alternative ignition source, Rescue knife, Radio (airborne radio station), Transponder (if present). What's a rescue knife?
Cruising man, so how does all that lot compare to the new requirements as listed in the Balloon Rule Book? After wading half wit through the dross it turns out to be not too bad compared to what we already ought to be carrying. As one would expect, all balloons, regardless of type, shall be equipped with protective gloves for each crew member. Mixed balloons, hot-air balloons and hot-air airships shall be equipped with all of the following when operating in VFR conditions. Most of the stuff listed does not require approval under an exemption but must be suitable for purpose and work. One notable item that does appear to be covered by an exemption is the pilot restraint so that needs to be 'approved'. The approval need not necessarily come from a balloon manufacturer however the actual mounting and attachment points will.
1. An alternative and independent source of ignition
2. A means of measuring and indicating fuel quantity
3. Fire blanket or fire-resistant cover; (Says should be no smaller than1.5mx1.8m)
4. Drop line of at least 25m in length.
5. Means of displaying drift direction (map)
6. Means of displaying time in hours minutes and seconds (clock)
7. A vertical speed indicator (Vario) if required by the Flight Manual
8. Pressure altitude if required by the Flight Manual, when required by airspace requirements or when the altitude needs to be known for the use of oxygen.
9. Fire extinguisher
10. First Aid Kit
11. A restraint system for the pilot-in-command when the balloon is equipped with either a separate compartment for the pilot-in-command and/or turning vent(s).
12. An envelope temperature indicator, which may either be of the continuous reading type or a type that gives a warning signal (falls on your head).
13. Gas balloons shall be equipped with a trail rope of at least 20 m in length made of natural fibre or electrostatic, conductive material and a knife but don’t need a fire extinguisher.
When an occupant (pilot) restraint harness is installed the harness must not fail when subjected to loads resulting from the occupant mass submitted to 2.0g vertically and 3.0g horizontally in all directions. An occupant mass of 86kg must be assumed. Local attachments in the load path between the safety belt or harness and the main structure of the basket, restraining the occupant, must be shown to be able to withstand the loads prescribed multiplied by a fitting factor of 1.33. That comes out at about 230kg vertically and 344kg horizontally. Its in CS 31HB.30.
Basket fittings for the restraint harness must come from the manufacturer or the method of installation be approved by the manufacturer. The installation of basket fittings needs to be signed off by a suitably authorised inspector. The restraint itself needs to be approved.
Fire extinguishers should conform to EN3 or an equivalent acceptable to the Agency and have a minimum capacity of 2kg when using dry powder, or when the extinguishing means is other than dry powder be at least of comparable effect and capacity. The total amount is 2kg and there appears to be no reason that can’t be made up of two 1kg extinguishers. Details in AMC 31HB.72(a)(4).
First Aid Kits
The first-aid kit should be equipped with appropriate and sufficient medications and instrumentation. However, the kit should be amended by the operator according to the characteristics of the operation (scope of operation, flight duration, number and demographics of passengers, etc.). The following should be included in the first-aid kit:
1. Bandages (assorted sizes)
2. Burns dressings (large and small)
3. Wound dressings (large and small)
4. Adhesive dressings (assorted sizes)
5. Antiseptic wound cleaner
6. Safety scissors
7. Disposable gloves
If suitable kits cannot be sourced then the they can be made up from separate components.
To be kept up to date the First Aid Kit should be inspected periodically to confirm, to the extent possible, that contents are maintained in the condition necessary for their intended use. Replenished at regular intervals, in accordance with the instructions contained on their labels, or as circumstances warrant and after use in flight at the first opportunity where replacement items are available. Details in AMC BOP.BAS.330.
Approval of equipment
Other than a few specific instances, approval of the instruments or the equipment is not required. Installation of the equipment should be such that it is readily and easily accessible. Fire blankets should be stored tightly wrapped to prevent ingress of propane should a leak occur.
Disabling Turning Vents
Much has been speculated on avoiding the purchase and use of a pilot restraint by disabling the turning vents by either tieing up the lines or removing the rigging. Sad to say that will not cut it with some of the manufacturers. Ultramagic state that it is not acceptable and they can only be closed by a fabric repair. Likewise Cameron Balloons Ltd regard removal of rigging lines and turning vent lines as an inspection failure. There is a modification permitting them to be sewn shut but the job is not necessarily that straightforward. Fitting a pilot restraint may save you one day whether you have turning vents or not and you only have to use when landing.
Annual Inspection items
We have given this a lot of consideration and will only inspect the additional items if they are listed in the Inspection Schedule and only, when stated, presented. We figure that the airworthiness of the balloon won’t be affected if you don’t have a watch. If that is the case I see no reason to check fire blankets or unravel drop lines to ensure they are over 25m long. As the pilot in command is responsible to ensure that the balloon meets the requirements we will run through a checklist to ensure that you know what you should have. Regardless of the Inspection Schedule we will check fire extinguishers, attachment points for pilot restraints (if required), that you have a drop line, fire blanket, first aid kit and, if you’ve got a Lindstrand Technologies jobbie. Strikers! Sadly if you’ve got a Schroeder you’ll have to turn up with everything including your inside leg measurement! But chill out man, as we started out, peace and love, all is truly lovely. Smile, its just the way it is.x
To try and make sense of all of this and probably stew your scull go to: https://www.easa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/dfu/Balloon%20Rule%20Book.pdf