NTSB Identification: NYC08FA307
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, September 07, 2008 in Phoenixville, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/23/2010
Aircraft: Lindstrand Balloons 150A, registration: N844LB
Injuries: 1 Fatal,4 Serious,3 Minor.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Prior to the flight the pilot was observed expressing concerns over the wind direction that would have them track toward Phoenixville. While in flight the pilot was in communication with ground personnel and he did not mention any trouble. The pilot told several of the passengers that the wind was taking them in the direction of Phoenixville and the flight was going to be "cut short." One passenger reported that the balloon "headed to the ground too fast," and another passenger was told by the pilot "don't get out under any circumstances." The balloon basket struck the tops of pine trees that surrounded the field in which they were trying to land, impacted the ground "very hard," bounced, tilted toward one side, bounced again, up righted, then tilted over, and came to rest on the side of the basket containing the fuel cylinders. Several passengers reported immediately after the first bounce the heat inside the basket was "extremely intense," and the pilot had told everyone to "get out." Fire was present in the basket area. Several passengers reported having difficulty exiting since several of the passengers had fallen on top of each other. Examination showed a fuel fitting had separated the fuel delivery system. Components from the fuel delivery system were submitted to the Safety Board Materials Laboratory for analysis. The material of the fitting body and female end of the fitting was consistent with brass and was fractured due to overstress. The manufacturer's checklist requires that "immediately before touchdown, turn off the pilot lights and if possible close the liquid valves and vent the fuel lines." One valve was in the full open position after the accident. The balloon had been modified by the operator by installation of a third fuel tank and the fitting that was found separated. The mechanic that performed the last inspection on the balloon reported that the owner utilized three different manufacturer's fuel tanks.

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

The separation of a portion of a fuel fitting during a hard landing resulting in release of fuel and a fire in the balloons basket area. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to follow the manufacturer's published procedures to shut down the fuel system prior to landing and the operator's installation of a third fuel tank and the fuel fitting that separated during the hard landing.

Full narrative available

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