Safety

Table of Contents

If you are interested in safety and the credentials of the company with whom you choose to fly, then you have come to the right place.

Global Ballooning is regarded as Australia’s most credentialed ballooning company.

With a fleet of over 30 balloons and 9 commercial pilots, Global Ballooning is one of Australia’s largest ballooning tour operations. Our attention to detail is reflected in our everyday approach to the business of ballooning and I am sure if you wish to conduct further research throughout Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), or the ballooning industry you will find the name Global Ballooning is held in the highest regard. Please take the time to review and enjoy our website – what you will see is evidence of a long detailed and safe history in ballooning around Australia and the world.

Our impeccable safety record is due to our commitment to operate Australia’s best maintained fleet of balloons. Our Maintenance Manager, Barry Ward has attended maintenance courses at the two leading balloon manufacturers Cameron Balloons in Bristol, England and Kavanagh Balloons in Sydney.

Our Director, Kiff Saunders is a delegate of CASA and is responsible for the issuing of commercial balloon pilot licenses in Australia. He is highly regarded within the industry and holds the highest possible qualifications in ballooning. He has also been inducted into the Australian Ballooning Federation Hall of Fame.

Global Ballooning maintains close links with international and national ballooning affiliated governing bodies. We are constantly discussing and updating our practices to reflect the best outcome for safe operations.

This all means that our passengers can rest assured they are enjoying their ballooning experience with one of the safest and most professional companies in the country.

Testimony to our incredible safety record is that after 30+ years of ballooning in Australia and over 120,000 passengers having enjoyed our balloon flights we have never made a claim on our insurance (OK there may have been a few bumpy landings over this time but no injury of significance). Now that is pretty impressive for an adventure-based company.

Flying school

Global Ballooning Australia Pty Ltd is a registered ‘Charter Airline and flying training facility’ authorised by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), operating under Air Operator Certificate number 1-UNSBH-02. All of our pilots hold commercial pilot licences (CPL –B) issued by the authority (CASA) and are governed by the same regulations pertaining to any small passenger airline.

Global Ballooning operates one of Australia’s few CASA certified commercial balloon flying training facilities. Majority of all balloon pilots flying over Melbourne have come through our flying school or training facilities, as have many pilots flying balloons around Australia. We also have our own CASA approved maintenance workshop allowing us the facility to conduct regular checks on all our aircraft. The good news for you is we are constantly under CASA review through their periodic audit program which maintains the highest standards of procedures.

Flight Characteristics

In Australia, hot air balloons generally fly when the air is cool and the wind is light – early in the morning. As hot air balloons only move with the wind, our flights are scheduled to operate in the calmest period around sunrise. The reason being is that a balloon is really just a giant bag of material held upright by the inflation of hot air. Standing between 20 and 30 metres high, a balloon can become extremely unruly if the wind is blowing over about 15km/hr. In such conditions, the fabric envelope can act like a giant sail in catching the breeze, causing ground management difficulties.

Promotional balloons flights may be conducted outside of the above optimal conditions but do require skillful piloting. These “promo” balloons often sustain significantly greater wear and tear of equipment. This is due to increased UV exposure from higher flying hours plus faster, drag landings over a period of time.

Hot air balloons come in different sizes – from small promotional balloons that carry one or two people, to the large passenger balloons that can carry up to 24 passengers. The difference is based on the volume of the balloon envelope. The envelope is made from silicon coated rip stop nylon similar to parachute or spinnaker fabric.

The lift-generating heat is caused by burning LPG through the hand-made, stainless steel, balloon burners. On average – a one hour flight in a passenger balloon might burn between 150- 180 litres of LPG.

Hot air balloons can be used for free flight or tethered operations.

Free Flight is when a balloon takes off and flies from point A to point B on the wind. This is the major skill in ballooning. Pilots must be able to read the prevalent wind conditions in order to choose a suitable launch site, judge the flight path and most importantly, elect an area in which to execute a safe landing. Good balloon pilots must possess an intrinsic understanding of meteorology.

What is a tether?

Tethered ballooning is when the balloon is tied to attachment points on the ground and goes up and down like a YoYo. Tethers are used at events where static display is required and the balloon doesn’t need to fly off.

The basics of flying a hot air balloon

Pilots do not steer hot air balloons in the same way you would steer a plane or a car. Hot air balloons are actually ‘lighter than air’ aircraft which means that they move with the wind. Like a bubble of detergent, balloons are carried by the wind and their direction is determined by the direction of airflow.

Most people are unaware that wind direction varies at different heights. The direction of the wind on the surface will not necessarily be the same as it is at say 1000 metres. By flying at different altitudes, the pilots can use different wind speeds and directions to manoeuvre the balloon to where they desire, often with extreme accuracy.

Prior to a flight, pilots will release small helium balloons to allow them to observe the wind’s direction and speed at different heights. This allows the pilots to determine the direction of flight and choose an appropriate upwind launch site based on where they would like to fly and land.

While in flight balloon pilots can control the altitude of the balloon very accurately with carefully timed blasts of the burners and, if experienced, can land within metres of their desired downwind target even if it is many kilometres away.

Ballooning Technology

The fabric section of a hot air balloon is called the ‘envelope’. This is the part that most people call the balloon. It is generally made of nylon and is put together by sewing hundreds of specially cut panels together to give it the ‘tear drop’ shape. These panels are sewn to nylon load tapes that actually distribute the weight loading across the envelope so the actual load on the fabric is less than 0.5kg when flying.

LPG is used to generate heat in balloons. In ballooning circles, we tend to use propane, the same gas as used in BBQ’s bottles. Autogas is an option although it tends to burn at somewhat lower pressure and is less clean. LPG is contained within the basket in 45L-62L stainless steel tanks similar in size to those seen on forklifts.

The LPG burners are handmade from stainless steel and are designed to give maximum heat output for minimum noise. They sound like a fire-breathing dragon and can shoot flames up to 5 metres in length into the envelope.

To get lift and ‘take off’, the envelope is heated using propane burners to a temperature greater than the ambient temperature. This difference in temperature between the outside and inside of the ‘envelope’ allows the balloon to lift off the ground, just as warm smoke or embers rise from a fire. A basket full of people is quite heavy so the volume of the balloon will be based on how much weight needs to be lifted.

The balloon basket or ‘Gondola’ is made of cane or wicker. They are hand woven on to a stainless-steel frame with stainless steel load bearing cables woven within the wicker to provide the strength to carry passengers and equipment.

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