WASHINGTON (AP) — An internal Federal Aviation Administration report urged greater safety oversight of the hot air balloon tour industry three years before the agency's head rejected similar recommendations from a federal accident investigations board.
The 2012 report by an FAA safety official strongly urges agency officials to impose the same level of oversight to the commercial balloon industry as is applied to airplane and helicopter tour companies. The report cites a high accident rate and significant economic incentives for balloon companies to take safety risks.
The National Transportation Safety Board made the same recommendations a year later. But FAA Administrator Michael Huerta rejected the recommendations in 2015, telling the board the risk posed by balloon tours is "low."
Sixteen people were killed Saturday in a fiery balloon tour crash in Texas.