Speaker 1 (00:00):
… shocking incident in the skies above Melbourne after this passenger in a brown jumper intentionally exited a hot air balloon at 1,500 feet and fell to his death. The balloon was airborne above Albert Street in Preston in the city’s northeast at the time of the tragedy. We’re joined now by aviation lawyer, Peter Carter. Good morning to you. This was truly a horrific incident for everyone involved. Of course, for those on that hot air balloon, just unbelievable. [00:00:30] This investigation into this incident, what does it look like?

Speaker 2 (00:34):
Good morning, Trevo. The investigators will be talking to all the occupants and the operator to get an understanding of exactly what happened. They will be looking at regulatory compliance. They’ll be trying to get an idea as to the motivation of the passenger who left the gondola, and they’ll be wanting to understand whether he booked. [00:01:00] They’ll be interested in the booking, when it was made, and try and get the full story as to why it occurred.

Speaker 1 (01:09):
Take us through regulations in regard to hot air balloons compared to planes, helicopters, etc.

Speaker 2 (01:16):
Well, it’s a commercial operation. There is a set of regulations that governs hot air balloons relating to the particular type of aircraft that they are, but otherwise, because it’s a commercial operation, [00:01:30] it’s very similar to any other general aviation charter flight or even airline operation in terms of the extent of obligations the operator must observe.

Speaker 1 (01:43):
So Peter, could this change the face of hot air ballooning forever now? Could there be some sort of strapping mechanism or seat belts, etc?

Speaker 2 (01:54):
Well, it depends on what the investigators decide and recommend. They [00:02:00] could, for example, put a canopy over the gondola to prevent people exiting, but if they did that, they’d have to lock doors on light aircraft and helicopters, so I really don’t see that that’s going to happen. I think this is a very unusual event. It never happened before, but we have to wait and see what the investigators decide.

Speaker 1 (02:20):
It’s quite remarkable. How would the whole industry be feeling right now? Because these hot air balloons go up every day.

Speaker 2 (02:27):
Yeah, look, it’s a very niche [00:02:30] area. Balloonists are special people and I’m sure that they’re enormously shocked and scratching their head as to why it would ever occur.

Speaker 1 (02:41):
Yeah, horrible story for all involved. Peter, thanks for your time.