|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||0601 To 1200|
|Locale Reference||airport : dca|
|Altitude||agl bound lower : 35|
agl bound upper : 35
|Controlling Facilities||tower : dca|
|Operator||common carrier : air taxi|
|Make Model Name||Any Unknown or Unlisted Aircraft Manufacturer|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : atp|
pilot : commercial
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 30|
flight time total : 10300
flight time type : 60
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : local|
|Qualification||controller : non radar|
|Anomaly||non adherence : far|
|Independent Detector||other other : unspecified|
|Consequence||faa : investigated|
|Primary Problem||Chart Or Publication|
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
I planned to operate a moored hot air balloon at the northeast foot of the 14TH street bridge inside the washington national airport (dca) control zone. I called dca tower by VHF radio, and got a clearance to operate a moored balloon from a parking lot south of P56A and north of VFR helicopter route 4, not to exceed a maximum altitude of 110' AGL, from sunrise to XX00. Operation of a moored balloon is covered by far 101.11 thru .19. I had the balloon inflated and moored to 3 vehicles (with 14,000# test, 5/8' nylon ropes) and the rapid deflation line was tied to one vehicle as outlined in far 101.19. The parking lot was surrounded by a brick wall, and the area under the balloon was roped off with pennants to create a safety zone. An FAA inspector arrived and asked for my license, then said that I had violated far 91.79(B) because I was below 1000' AGL in a congested area. His claim was that having a pilot on board made it a manned balloon subject to far 91. I believe that he was confusing the issue by looking at the section of far 101 that deals with unmanned free balloons (.31 thru .39), the section on moored balloons does not specify manned or unmanned. The lines limited the balloon basket's altitude to 35-40' AGL, and the top never exceeded 105' AGL. I believe that far 101 fully intends to allow the operation of a moored balloon in congested areas because 101.13(B) concerns operation at less than 250' from and below a building. My understanding was that part 91.79 only applied to free flight of a balloon.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: DESPITE EVERY CONCEIVABLE SAFETY CONSIDERATION, EXPERIENCED BALLOONIST RUNS AFOUL OF A LCL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE FAA WHILE OPERATING A HOT AIR BALLOON IN TETHERED FLT.
Narrative: I PLANNED TO OPERATE A MOORED HOT AIR BALLOON AT THE NE FOOT OF THE 14TH STREET BRIDGE INSIDE THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL ARPT (DCA) CTL ZONE. I CALLED DCA TWR BY VHF RADIO, AND GOT A CLRNC TO OPERATE A MOORED BALLOON FROM A PARKING LOT SOUTH OF P56A AND NORTH OF VFR HELI ROUTE 4, NOT TO EXCEED A MAX ALT OF 110' AGL, FROM SUNRISE TO XX00. OPERATION OF A MOORED BALLOON IS COVERED BY FAR 101.11 THRU .19. I HAD THE BALLOON INFLATED AND MOORED TO 3 VEHICLES (WITH 14,000# TEST, 5/8' NYLON ROPES) AND THE RAPID DEFLATION LINE WAS TIED TO ONE VEHICLE AS OUTLINED IN FAR 101.19. THE PARKING LOT WAS SURROUNDED BY A BRICK WALL, AND THE AREA UNDER THE BALLOON WAS ROPED OFF WITH PENNANTS TO CREATE A SAFETY ZONE. AN FAA INSPECTOR ARRIVED AND ASKED FOR MY LICENSE, THEN SAID THAT I HAD VIOLATED FAR 91.79(B) BECAUSE I WAS BELOW 1000' AGL IN A CONGESTED AREA. HIS CLAIM WAS THAT HAVING A PLT ON BOARD MADE IT A MANNED BALLOON SUBJECT TO FAR 91. I BELIEVE THAT HE WAS CONFUSING THE ISSUE BY LOOKING AT THE SECTION OF FAR 101 THAT DEALS WITH UNMANNED FREE BALLOONS (.31 THRU .39), THE SECTION ON MOORED BALLOONS DOES NOT SPECIFY MANNED OR UNMANNED. THE LINES LIMITED THE BALLOON BASKET'S ALT TO 35-40' AGL, AND THE TOP NEVER EXCEEDED 105' AGL. I BELIEVE THAT FAR 101 FULLY INTENDS TO ALLOW THE OPERATION OF A MOORED BALLOON IN CONGESTED AREAS BECAUSE 101.13(B) CONCERNS OPERATION AT LESS THAN 250' FROM AND BELOW A BUILDING. MY UNDERSTANDING WAS THAT PART 91.79 ONLY APPLIED TO FREE FLT OF A BALLOON.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of August 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.