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Fuel leak caused Luxor balloon crash: Aviation ministry

Hot air balloon accident that killed 19 tourists in Luxor in February 2013 was caused by a fuel leak, says official report

Ahram Online , Tuesday 7 Jan 2014
Egypt
Tourists ride a hot air balloon before sunrise in Luxor, Egypt (File Photo: AP).
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The hot air balloon accident that killed 19 tourists in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor in February 2013 was caused by a fuel leak, the civil aviation ministry has said in its final report.

The report, issued on Tuesday, said a fuel leak in one of the tubes feeding the balloon's burner was ignited, which caused a huge fire that seriously injured the pilot and propelled the balloon into an uncontrollable ascent until it eventually collapsed as the fire spread and crashed.

The report ordered new precautions to prevent such accidents from recurring.

Tourists from the UK, France, Belgium, Hungary, Japan, Hong Kong and Egypt were among the deceased. The pilot and a British tourist were the only survivors.

Hot air ballooning was briefly halted in the tourist hub but resumed two months after the accident.

In March, former civil aviation minister Wael El-Maadawy said the company responsible for the accident – SkyTours – would not resume ballooning activities until investigations were concluded.

The previous hot air balloon accident in Luxor, which left 16 people injured in 2009, led to a halt in all air balloon activity for six months until security measures were implemented.

Other accidents took place in 2007 and 2008, but caused no casualties.

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Nigel Pogmore
08-01-2014 12:37pm
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Balloon accident, not so fast
Egyptian Hot air balloon accident report,Clarification required. Today I was inundated with reports announcing the findings surrounding the worst hot air balloon accident on record, in which 19 people were killed. With no official information to hand, I feel that some clarification may be required. In the immediate aftermath of this accident, (the world’s worst) it was reported that the drop line had becoming tangled with one or more fuel lines, thereafter as pressure was applied (presumably by the ground crew) this apparently ruptured a pressurised fuel line. As a result a fire broke out, followed shortly afterwards with horrific explosion, one that many have witnessed on YouTube. Having read media reports a few hours ago, It appears that, that theory appears to have been thrown out of the window. Without an immediate access to the official report, I see that the investigating committee has come to the conclusion (probability) that the fuel line rupture was caused by some unexplained failure of a fuel line close situated to the burner. Apparently the investigating committee has warned balloon operators as well as manufacturers of this apparent defect. This is where I have a problem, knowing the high standard to which components are built, be it Cameron or UltraMagic I would be very surprised if not shocked, if this is the true root cause of this catastrophe. However If indeed the investigating committee are correct, surely this would Immediately trigger off a recall of all potentially offending parts, at the same time, triggering the immediate grounding of all aircraft known to be operating with the supposedly defective component. I see no evidence of such actions being taken. Once again supposing that the gas leak actually occurred at the top of the fuel line, close to the burner, as indicated by the investigating committee, I would imagine that there is the far higher probability of failed component due to misuse or inadequate maintenance, grasping at straws, even age-related, rather than the investigating committees implied accusation of design failure. This I am afraid raises many uncomfortable questions, the first of which would home in on the standard of workmanship in relation to repairs carried out in this locality. Secondly who is authorised to conduct airworthiness inspections and to what standard are they working to? I question, was the operator in full compliance with the manufacturers repair manual? Whilst I see that the balloon was an Ultramagic N425, at this time I’m uncertain as to whether the operator were using a set of UltraMagic burners or as often is the case, burners manufactured by Cameron's UK ? As those in the industry will be fully aware, burners are for the purpose of air worthiness certification are deemed as rightfully so interchangeable, therefore I would have no problem in that regard. Until I am given the opportunity to examine the official report, I remain rather suspicious that the investigating committee may well be conveniently pointing the finger of blame in the direction of an innocent manufacturer rather than highlighting the true cause. If this is the case, this would make a mockery of a accident investigations within the ballooning industry, at the same time pointing the finger towards what is becoming to be a common occurrence of protecting self interests, their rather diminished tourist trade, at the expense of all those killed. Illegal home built gas fittings There are historic records of gas lines failure, this took place in Canada in a balloon reportedly operated by Sundance balloons. Investigations into that accident revealed that the operator had manufacturer of their own fuel lines from parts acquired away from the manufacturer. Pressure tests on their home built gas fittings revealed that they failed at pressure of 150 PSI whereas they should have been capable of coping 400 psi. In that parti
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Scott
07-01-2014 09:41pm
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and what now?
Now what? Who will bear responsibility for the lack of maintenance that caused the leakage? It should be Skytours and if they have not enough funds it should be Egypt to pay for the damage and suffering that it inflicted on the families of the victims.
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