NTSB Identification: LAX04LA123.
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Accident occurred Friday, February 13, 2004 in Phoenix, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/08/2005
Aircraft: Balloon Works Firefly 11, registration: N7244X
Injuries: 3 Minor,8 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot and 10 passengers were dragged across desert terrain in a balloon, following the pilot's attempt to land. After an uneventful flight, the balloon touched down and the pilot initiated the deflation sequence. Several seconds into the deflation, the balloon's vent line separated. The separation occurred inside the balloon's envelope, resulting in the deflation mechanism becoming reseated. The surface wind increased and the pilot lost control of the balloon. Several passengers shouted that they wanted to egress the balloon carriage, but the pilot advised them that the change in weight would cause the balloon to become airborne. The carriage was dragged about 1,600 feet across terrain, colliding with cactus, rocks, and bushes. After the accident, the failed vent line was examined at the manufacturer's facility. The line construction was in conformance to the manufacturer's specification. Deterioration of the core fiber was typical of that resulting from flexural fatigue. However, due to the absence of information regarding the rigging configuration and/or conditions of use, the cause of the core-fiber deterioration was inconclusive. The manufacturer noted that the failed core fiber points at the failure point were consistent with one or more of the following conditions: insufficient bend radius while rope is under load; pinching of rope between objects; severe localized overloading.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the failure of the deflation vent line, which resulted in the pilot not being able to control the balloon in the increased wind conditions.

Full narrative available

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