How Safe Is The Balloon Ride in Cappadocia?
Surrounded by the amazing volcanic formations in the natural preservation site (where airplanes or helicopters are not allowed to fly over) and thanks to its microclimate, Cappadocia is one of the most preferred destinations for hot air ballooning activity recording mostly over 260 flights per year safe and successfully.
Licensing of Pilots
45 hours of training for PPL followed by 40 hours and a minimum of 6 months to achieve a CPL to fly balloons smaller than 250.000 cu.ft. (12 passengers). Another 6 months and 100 more flying hours are required to obtain the license to fly larger balloons…
Hot air balloon pilots with CPL have to renew their license every 2 years by passing a written test (to refresh knowledge) regarding emergency procedures and a check-out flight. The Class2 medical checks take place in CAA accredited hospitals. The medical checks are once every 5 years up to the age of 40 and every 2 years after that. At the age of 65, the licenses are not renewed.
Please note that in the US, hot air balloon pilots don’t have to have medicals and in France, you get your license after a maximum of 15 hours of flight time. (and no difference of PPL or CPL)
Hot Air Balloon Operators
Balloon companies have to employ a flight operations manager (minimum 3 years of pilot license required) mostly filled in by chief pilot, ground operations, and a maintenance manager (minimum of 2 years maintenance experience) and a quality control manager (minimum of 2 years’ experience) independent of all departments.
A minimum of 5 balloons over 120.000 cu.ft. and a minimum of 500.000 USD is required as paid capital, to apply to CAA for a new operator license.
For Turkey, main suppliers are English (Lindstrand and Cameron), Spanish (Ultramagic) and Czech (Kubicek). Some balloons in Cappadocia are also from Ultramagic and Kubicek…
Every balloon comes with a manual where all the minimums maximums are mentioned. Also, SBS (service bulletins) and ADs (airworthiness directives) may be issued by the manufacturer during a balloon’s operational life. They are tested regularly for tear and other qualities by the company’s maintenance manager and signed in their logbook together with relevant check sheets.
All balloons receive thorough checks by the pilot before and after the flight and all the info is also logged and signed by the pilot.
The airworthiness of the balloons is renewed by the CAA every 12 months following thorough checks…
Problems with balloons are likely to occur from fuel systems mainly leaks from the hoses, which are inspected by the pilots on a daily basis.
Replacement hoses and connections and all the related spare parts are ONLY supplied by the manufacturer. It is strictly forbidden to perform any unauthorized repairs…
For the past 10 years, all balloons carry an aircraft radio (VHF) with the frequency set to 130.00 to communicate with each other when they have to…
In Addition to Official Requirements
- An information card with pilot’s name is distributed upon check-in and the safety briefing for windy landings is standard before take-offs.
- Experienced pilots and balloon companies know more about the weather than most other balloon companies (Kapadokya Balloons, Royal Balloons, Butterfly Balloons and Voyager Balloons are one of the few, named personally to present opinion about weather conditions on CAA’s website)
- Each has at least one crew and one pilot meeting every month. The meetings are logged and open for inspections of CAA… All crew has to read, understand and sign a – crew handbook – regarding duties, dangers and emergencies concerning the safety. Pilots and crew receive a fire training/rescue at the fire department once a year.
- Between January 1st, 2010 and March 31st. 2017, most of the same reputable balloon companies have flown more than 900.000 passengers in more than 50.000 flights with a perfect safety record…
- Unofficially around more than 20.000 balloon flights were executed by various balloon operators in Cappadocia only in 2012 and nearly 900 since the accident of May 20, 2013…
- This is a major balloon volume in a small area and both the Turkish CAA and balloon operators are working together to avoid the smallest of mistakes. Some new measures will be in place quite soon…
Hope the above information shows that hot air ballooning safety, despite its recreational nature, is taken very seriously in Turkey. Despite all, professional companies try their best to minimize/eliminate human error factor with the aim of a 100% safety record, not only for themselves but for all balloon operators in Cappadocia.
The quality of the equipment and keeping them well-maintained within their projected commercial use period is indispensable for flight safety. Operating with a well-trained ground crew and experienced pilots both with excellent commanding skill and knowledge on meteorology is the other major factor which we meticulously consider while making a booking for our guests for a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia while in the area.