2012 Ljubljana Marshes hot air balloon crash
|Date||23 August 2012|
|Summary||Collision with trees and fire on landing|
|Site||Ljubljana Marshes, Municipality of Ig, Slovenia |
|Aircraft type||Lindstrand LBL 600C|
On 23 August at 7:54 am CEST (05:54 UTC), a hot air balloon carrying 32 passengers, mostly tourists, crashed and caught fire during a thunderstorm on the Ljubljana Marshes, in the Municipality of Ig, 7 km (4 mi) south of Ljubljana. A sudden weather change caused the pilot to try to land immediately. However, the emergency landing was thwarted by wind shear and the balloon hit nearby trees. A fire then broke out.
The balloon was a Lindstrand Balloons LBL 600C. It was the largest balloon in the country and the largest serially manufactured balloon in the world. The basket of the balloon was 5.20 meters (17.1 feet) long and 1.70 metres (5 feet 7 inches) wide, and had four compartments.
Four people on board were immediately killed during the accident and 28 others were injured. The four dead at the scene were charred beyond recognition. All four were from Ljubljana: a couple, their 11-year-old daughter, and a 56-year-old woman. Ten people had to be resuscitated. All of the survivors, aged from about 10 to about 60 years, received medical care. Two of the injured people were British and another two were Italian citizens. Two of the injured later died: a woman who died two weeks after the accident in Ljubljana, and a 59-year-old man from Ljubljana who died a few days after in Maribor.
On the same day at 7:00 pm, a mass for the dead and injured was held in St. Michael's Church on the Marshes in Črna Vas by Anton Jamnik, the auxiliary Bishop of Ljubljana. It was attended by about 400 people.
Slovene Civil Aviation Agency reported on 27 August 2012 that commercial hot air balloon flights were banned temporarily. The duration of the ban was not given, but the balloon crash was cited as the reason for the ban. Throughout the next year, all involved parties coordinated proposals for stricter rules, which were accepted, and new licenses were granted again starting in August 2013. In the meantime, several operators closed because they were prevented from selling flights, while the remaining ones faced severely reduced sales even after the ban was lifted.
Investigation and trial
The investigation by the Slovenian Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission found that the main cause of the accident was the "improper technique used in operating balloon type LBL 600C in the landing phase." Contributory factors were "insufficient meteorological planning" and lack of consideration for the weather conditions at the time of the flight.
In a preliminary hearing, the pilot denied all these statements, pleading not guilty to the charge of causing general danger. The court trial began in November 2016. Two years later, the district court exonerated the defendant, based on an opinion of a foreign expert.
- "Množična nesreča zaradi strmoglavljenja balona (23.8.2012)" [Mass Disaster due to a Balloon Crash (23 August 2012)] (in Slovenian). Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, Ministry of Defence, Republic of Slovenia.
- "Hot air balloon crashes in Slovenia killing at least 4, injuring 28 others". The Washington Post. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- "Hot air balloon crash kills four in Slovenia". BBC News. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- "Nesreča balona: Tragedijo naj bi povzročilo striženje vetra pri tleh, pilot brez veljavnega dovoljenja" [The Balloon Crash: The Tragedy Was Presumably Caused by Wind Shear near the Ground, the Pilot Did not Have a Valid License] (in Slovenian). Dnevnik.si. 23 August 2012.
- "Slovenia bans hot air balloon flights after fatal crash". Asiaone News. Ljubljana. Agence France-Presse. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- "Pilot drugega balona: Preverjali smo vreme, ni bilo videti neviht ali drastičnih vetrov" [The Pilot of the Second Balloon: We Were Checking out the Weather, There Were no Storms or Drastic Winds] (in Slovenian). 24ur.com. 23 August 2012.
- Zerdin, Ali (23 August 2012). "The attraction and risks of hot air balloons". AJC. Ljubljana. Associated Press. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
- "Four dead, 28 hurt in Slovenia hot air balloon crash". Ljubljana: Channel NewsAsia. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- "Še ena žrtev podlegla poškodbam 14 dni po nesreči balona" (in Slovenian). Delo. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- "Balonarska nesreča na Barju zahtevala še šesto žrtev" [The Ljubljana Marshes Balloon Accident Claims Its Sixth Victim]. MMC RTV Slovenija. 10 September 2012.
- Teran Košir, Alenka (7 July 2015). "Životarjenje slovenskih balonarjev" [Lingering of Slovene hot air balloon operators]. SiOL.net (in Slovenian).
- Final report on the investigation of the aircraft accident involving hot air balloon Lindstrand LBL 600C registration mark S5-OLO, which occurred 23 August 2012 over the Ljubljana Marshes (PDF). Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission (Report). 23 October 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
- "Pilot balona ne priznava krivde za nesrečo na Ljubljanskem barju" [The balloon pilot denies responsibility for the accident on Ljubljana Marhses] (in Slovenian). RTV Slovenija. 23 November 2015.
- "Začenjajo sojenje balonarju Miru Kolencu za balonarsko nesrečo na Ljubljanskem barju" [The trial of Miro Kolenc for the Ljubljana Marshes hot air balloon crash begins] (in Slovenian). Slovenian Press Agency. 26 November 2016.
- "Balonarska nesreča: Kolenc oproščen" [Baloon accident: Kolenc exonerated]. Dnevnik (in Slovenian). 16 November 2018.