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Fresh Approach towards the balloon sector

Following the EASA Safety Conference on General Aviation, held in Rome in October 2014, the Agency engaged with the balloon community to explore on ways for a more appropriate regulatory framework. Together with Agency experts, experienced professionals from the balloon industry, the user community and the competent authorities will bring the direct voice into the process and play an essential role in this work.

On 10 March 2015, the first Balloon Accident Data Coding Analysis Group (BADCAG) meeting was held in Cologne. The group reviewed 13 fatal accidents, occurred in Europe the last 5 years, with the intention to improve the current taxonomy and to identify the main safety risks in Ballooning. The results of this work will be presented in a dedicated report soon.

On  17 March 2015, the balloon experts met with representatives from the Agency and the Part M General Aviation Task Force to discuss maintenance related topics. They received an update on the work undertaken to produce a ‘Part M Light’ specific for general aviation. This event also provided an opportunity to have an in-depth dialogue on balloon maintenance specific issues.

On 24-25 March 2015, the Agency held its first meeting with the balloon experts group to present the plan for the production of a ‘Air Operations Balloon Regulation’ (OPS balloon regulation). Whilst transposing the existing balloon specific requirements from the Air Operations rules into the new OPS balloon regulation, the Agency will review and introduce simplifications with the engagement and the contributions from the sector.

In the field of licensing/training/medical, the Agency will organise a thematic workshop before summer to engage in a dialogue and agree on measures for possible further improvements in the aircrew regulation.

In the rules of the air (SERA) implementation, the Agency clarified a few issues raised by the recently created European Balloon Federation that will be involved in future discussions on this rule.

Participants from the balloon sector  welcomed and were encouraged by the recent progress in implementing reform measures specific to balloon operations. They also called on the Agency to maintain the momentum, continue the technical work and step up outreach efforts towards the sector.