Balloon crash report: 'Death by a thousand cuts'

By Trevor Quinn, Amie Hickland of the Wairarapa Times-Age -
Balloon pilot Lance Hopping. Photo / Supplied
Balloon pilot Lance Hopping. Photo / Supplied

Carterton Mayor Ron Mark has criticised the gradual release of findings by the Civic Aviation Authority (CAA) over last year's balloon crash which claimed 11 lives, describing its effect on relatives of the victims as "death by a thousand cuts".

Mr Mark said he was disappointed only parts of the CAA report had been released and that investigators did not wait until the final report was completed.

The latest report said balloon pilot Lance Hopping was not licensed to fly as his medical certificate to fly was not current at the time of the crash on January 7, 2012.

Mr Mark said he believed the release and drip-feed of details had been insensitive.

"I would have thought that government agencies would have had some sense of understanding of what happens when they drip-feed into the public arena," Mr Mark said.

"I would have thought they would have more compassion."

Mr Mark said he was disappointed such reports kept coming out of the blue. He said similar views had been expressed by the victims' families.

The report said that failures by Mr Hopping, 53, contributed to the accident, which occurred when the balloon hit a power line near Carterton and burst into flames, killing all on board.

The report also criticised Mr Hopping for failing to brief the passengers on safety features such as a rapid deflation system and a parachute valve.

"I think everyone would be a lot happier if we waited for the final report," Mr Mark said.

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