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Marking Five Years Since Lockhart Balloon Tragedy: FAA Yet to Implement Doggett’s Safety Law

***Press Release***

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 30, 2021

Contact: Kate Stotesbery

202-494-4620

 

Marking Five Years Since Lockhart Balloon Tragedy: FAA Yet to Implement Doggett’s Safety Law

Washington, D.C. – Today, we mark five years since the fatal hot air balloon crash that took the lives of 16 people near Lockhart on July 30, 2016. The Lockhart crash constituted the deadliest commercial balloon crash in our Nation’s history, and the worst aviation disaster in America since 2009. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the Federal Aviation Association’s (FAA) refusal to require balloon operators to obtain a medical certificate contributed to the Caldwell County crash. Rep. Doggett then worked with victims’ families to author an amendment to remedy this failure to ensure no more families risk injury or death from an impaired pilot.

Rep. Doggett spent years trying to get FAA to act, and repeated efforts to get his hot air balloon safety amendment attached to a must-pass bill, finally—over 2 years after this tragedy—the legislation for which the survivors petitioned became law in 2018 through passage of the Doggett amendment in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act.

However, now, five years after the tragedy and nearly three years after his safety measure became law, the FAA has done nothing but make excuses for inaction.  

“As we remember the tragic, preventable loss of lives five years ago, let us also remember the failure of the Federal Aviation Administration to do its job. The FAA has delayed and delayed, even after enactment of an explicit law,” said Congressman Doggett, “now claiming adoption of a further regulation is necessary before complying with the law. The FAA has displayed a spirit of indifference—disregarding both National Transportation Safety Board recommendations and this law authored and passed in memory of those we lost near Lockhart.”

“Passage of my passenger safety bill was the result of the dedicated work of the families and all who petitioned for this belated action,” Rep. Doggett continued. “For the many who prayed and mourned the loss resulting from this unnecessary tragedy, know that you have been heard. We cannot bring these precious lives back. But, when this measure is finally implemented, we hope no more families will be exposed to the horror of a crash from an impaired pilot.

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Rep. Doggett’s amendment passed in 2018; he delivered remarks on the House Floor, which can be found here. He also released this video message for constituents and for victims’ families upon House passage, viewable here.

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