Sun, May 13, 2012
January Accident Fatally Injured Eleven
The pilot of a balloon that went down in New Zealand four months ago was found to have tested positive for cannabis, post-mortem. New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission said that while findings had not linked cannabis use to the accident, the test results were “concerning”.
"Toxicology tests from the pilot had returned a positive result for cannabis, and further inquiry and analysis related to this issue was underway," said TAIC on its website.
Bloomberg News reports that in the January 7 accident, the balloon struck power lines and caught fire while preparing to land after a 45-minute flight near Carterton, northeast of the capital Wellington. As the flames spread, two passengers jumped from the basket before the craft impacted the ground. The commission is investigating “performance-impairing substances and their effects on pilot performance” as well as certification and maintenance of balloons and any possible malfunction during the accident.
The balloon accident was the biggest loss of New Zealand life in an air accident since 1979, when an Air New Zealand DC-10 sightseeing flight over Antarctica crashed into Mount Erebus and killed all 257 passengers and crew. A more recent accident occurred in 1989 resulted in 13 deaths when two balloons collided near the central Australian town of Alice Springs.
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