WASHINGTON– Today, Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), joined by Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Congressman Will Hurd (R-Texas) filed bipartisan legislation directing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to require medical certifications for commercial balloon pilots. This bill follows the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation of the fatal 2016 hot air balloon crash near Lockhart.
“This legislation will save lives and prevent tragedies like last summer’s hot air balloon crash near Lockhart,” said Congressman Farenthold. “Common sense is to have the FAA require a medical certificate for balloon pilots just as they do for all other commercial pilots.”
“Because the FAA has failed to act, I am taking action to ensure no more families risk injury or death from unsafe hot-air balloon pilots,” said Congressman Doggett. “The FAA should not delegate its responsibility for public safety to a private lobbying group upon which it has thus far relied. Delay risks further disasters. No more balloon tragedies should be required to justify the reasonable safety measures we need.”
“During my DC2DQ town hall stop in Ozona this August, I was moved by the personal story of a constituent who lost a family member in the recent hot air balloon accident. While nothing will bring these innocent folks back, the tragedy shined a light on the industry, and gave us an opportunity to improve the safety of future passengers. If a commercial operator is responsible for the lives of others, he or she should be required to be licensed,” said Congressman Hurd.
In adopting its final report on Tuesday, October 17, the NTSB found FAA oversight was a contributing factor to the deadly Lockhart crash. NTSB recommended the FAA end its exemption for commercial hot air balloon operators, requiring them to hold a medical certificate, like commercial airplane pilots.