Avianca A319 at Bogota on Dec 31st 2020, hot air balloon entangled with aircraft

Last Update: November 8, 2022 / 20:18:08 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Dec 31, 2020

Classification
Incident

Airline
Avianca

Flight number
AV-29

Destination
Bogota, Colombia

Aircraft Registration
N557AV

Aircraft Type
Airbus A319

ICAO Type Designator
A319

Airport ICAO Code
SKBO

An Avianca Airbus A319-100, registration N557AV performing flight AV-29 from Orlando,FL (USA) to Bogota (Colombia), had just touched down on Bogota's runway 13L at 20:09L (01:09Z Jan 1st 2021) when the aircraft collided with a large plastics object floating in the air, the object got entangled with the left hand engine, left wing and left horizontal stabilizer as well as the right hand engine, right hand wing and right hand horizontal stabilizer. The crew managed to roll out safely on runway 13L nonetheless, steered the aircraft off the runway via a high speed turn off and stopped immediately after crossing the hold short line.

Colombian media were speculating the plastics object might have been a pyrotechnic balloon.

The airport as well as Colombia's Civil Aviation Authority have not yet commented the occurrence.

The airline reported on Jan 1st 2021: "The flight of Dec 31st 2020 covering the Orlando-Bogota route was reached by a hot air balloon when it had already landed at El Dorado Airport. The flight landed at 20:09 local time with all its passengers and crew in perfect condition and was towed at 20:59, following an inspection by the fire brigade in which no news was reported. Passengers who had connections to other destinations were able to do so without any inconvenience. Avianca makes a call to the public to refrain from burning such balloons, which are prohibited by authorities."

In further comments to Colombian media the airline stated, the aircraft had just touched down when it encountered the hot air balloon. No emergency was declared. The aircraft did not suffer any damage.

The occurrence aircraft is still on the ground in Bogota 15.5 hours after landing.

Parque La Florida, a recreational park, is located at position N4.7333 W74.1436 about 1.3nm abeam the threshold of runway 13L. On Dec 31st it is usually used for new year celebrations.

On Jan 3rd 2021 Colombia's National Federation of Pyrotechnics (FENALPI) reported the balloon had not been a pyrotechnics one.

On Jan 3rd 2021 Colombia's Aerocivil (CAA) reported the hot air balloon was made of paper, plastics and some parts of aluminium. Other characteristics are still to be specified. An investigation is underway.

On Jan 3rd 2021 the airline further stated the balloon burst on impact with the aircraft that had already touched down.

On Jan 15th 2021 Colombia's GRIAA (Accident Investigation Unit) reported: "According to the initial statements, at 01:15 UTC, during the landing in Bogot√° airport, the aircraft experienced an ingestion with an air balloon on runway 13L. The aircraft finished the flight with no further issues. It was found plastic debris all over the plane, including ingestion of those plastic debris and other materials on both engines. Both engines were affected. There was no injuries and none consequences related to the control of the aircraft on the ground." The occurrence was rated a serious incident and is being investigated by the GRIAA.

Colombia's GRIAA released their final report in Spanish only (Editorial note: to serve the purpose of global prevention of the repeat of causes leading to an occurrence an additional timely release of all occurrence reports in the only world spanning aviation language English would be necessary, a Spanish only or no release does not achieve this purpose as set by ICAO annex 13 and just forces many aviators to waste much more time and effort each in trying to understand the circumstances leading to the occurrence. Aviators operating internationally are required to read/speak English besides their local language, investigators need to be able to read/write/speak English to communicate with their counterparts all around the globe).

The report concludes the probable causes of the serious incident were:

Lack of knowledge, lack of foresight and lack of responsibility by the "Globero" Club, that launched the balloon without control, without follow up, without foreseeing the trajectory in terms of distance, height and direction the balloon would be taking, without any information to the Aeronautical Authorities not knowing which effects their actions would cause to air navigation.

Contibuting factors:

At the time of the balloon launch the Intertropical Confluence Zone (ITCZ) was displaced to the south into Colombia causing random winds not following the global pattern East-West as it would happen most of the year. In this case the balloon went west-east.

The ITCZ caused dry weather and high solar radiation with lack of cloud contributing to a more lasting float of the balloon, which at the mercy of winds flew from Envigado to Bogota (editorial note: about 123nm).

In general in Colombia balloon groups are unaware of air navigation, operational security and especially the implication their activity can have on aircraft. At best they only consider the effects on infrastructure or people in the landing zone. The clubs do not estimate that their balloons (with paper structure re-inforced with adhesive tape and kevlar, the sturdiness of the footlight and its accessories), which are clearly a risk, could have caused a more serious event with catastrophic consequences for the aircraft and its occupants.

Various government entities involved in controlling the airspace observed the balloon floating over the Bogota area, its surroundings and Eldorado Airport, however, underestimated the severity of the presence, there was no communication between them, thus the risk was not assessed and no preventive measures were taken. These could for example have been to shoot the balloon down, limit or close the operation of Eldorado Airport until it was ascertained the balloon had landed or no longer posed a risk for operation around the airport.

When the balloon was noticed by Eldorado Airport and N557AV was on approach, ATC obviously underestimated the characteristics of the balloon and the risk it represented, its possible impact on operations and the damage it could cause to aircraft. Consequently there was no action (e.g. go around, suspension of operation of airport) to prevent the collision that ultimately occurred.

In the night of the event a rather relaxed athmosphere with low traffic existed at the aerodrome as consequence of the Covid Pandemic, which contributed to a reduced situational alertness at Eldorado Airport and contributed to the estimation that the balloon would be a much smaller pyrotechnical balloon, which would have been typical for the day (Dec 31st 2020).

Information about the construction of such a balloon is easily available on the World Wide Web enabling individuals or groups to manually build increasingly resistant balloons without requiring special skills or knowledge.

Despite the fact that the balloon was handmade without application of engineering principles, its characteristics and robustness allowed it to fly a considerable distance between Envigado and Bogota in a short time.

Metars:
SKBO 010300Z 35003KT 9999 FEW017 BKN070 13/13 Q1027 NOSIG RMK A3033=
SKBO 010100Z VRB02KT 9999 SCT017 BKN070 13/12 Q1026 NOSIG RMK A3030=
SKBO 010000Z 24003KT 9999 SCT017 SCT080 14/13 Q1025 NOSIG RMK A3027=
SKBO 010000Z 24003KT 9999 SCT017 SCT080 14/13 Q1025 NOSIG RMK A3027=
SKBO 312300Z 29004KT 9999 SCT018 SCT080 14/13 Q1024 NOSIG RMK A3026=
SKBO 312200Z 21004KT 7000 VCSH BKN018 14/13 Q1024 NOSIG RMK VCSH NE/NW A3025=
SKBO 312100Z 34003KT 5000 VCSH BKN018 13/12 Q1024 RETSRA NOSIG RMK VCSH N/E/S/W A3025=
Aircraft Registration Data
Registration mark
N557AV
Country of Registration
United States
Date of Registration
CmjblpgAlejbd Subscribe to unlock
TCDS Ident. No.
Manufacturer
AIRBUS
Aircraft Model / Type
A319-115
Number of Seats
ICAO Aircraft Type
A319
Year of Manufacture
Serial Number
Aircraft Address / Mode S Code (HEX)
Engine Count
Engine Manufacturer
Engine Model
Engine Type
Pounds of Thrust
Main Owner
AiAbpkgielncnAnkmlgpmgeecn bldchkmcklfdilmpdngekmpgjclcld gnqlkljgebhccAAdhqdibbjbAlj miAkgjnmm Subscribe to unlock
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Dec 31, 2020

Classification
Incident

Airline
Avianca

Flight number
AV-29

Destination
Bogota, Colombia

Aircraft Registration
N557AV

Aircraft Type
Airbus A319

ICAO Type Designator
A319

Airport ICAO Code
SKBO

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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