A Yarra Valley ballooning company, Go Wild is preparing to file a case against the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) claiming a wrong weather forecast that caused an accident.
Seven people were rushed to hospital when the Go Wild Ballooning flight landed with a heavy bang in the northeast parts of Melbourne on February 8, 2018.
The pilot had to make an emergency landing after wind conditions changed so suddenly.
Prior investigations by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed that the weather bureau had uploaded the incorrect weather forecast to their automated phone briefing service specific to hot air balloon operators which led to the pilot being unaware of forecasted changes in wind before take-off.
The report further noted that the safety briefing for passengers before they boarded “was not effective” as most passengers did not understand the landing position needed in case of an emergency.
Passengers are seeking damages
In 2019, two passengers who sustained serious injuries in a similar incident filed a case at the Supreme Court seeking compensation from Go Wild Ballooning.
The ballooning company has separately filed a case against the Commonwealth of Australia at the Supreme Court stating that the BoM acted “negligently” and should be jointly liable for the passengers’ injuries.
“Had the correct recording been uploaded by the BOM on the morning of 8 February 2018 (which indicated that a significant wind change could be expected), the flight carrying the passengers would not have launched and any injuries or damage sustained by the passengers arising from the incident would not have occurred,” the writ said.
“The BOM is co-ordinately liable to the passengers for any injury or damage arising from the incident.”
Go Wild wants the Commonwealth of Australia to pay “any damages” owed to the affected passengers and indemnify the ballooning company from legal costs incurred during court proceedings.
Since the accident, the weather bureau has introduced a new automatic system that ensures accurate local weather updates are send to balloon operators.
Go Wild has also taken new safety measures that require all their passengers to demonstrate the emergency landing position just after boarding their balloon.
Go Wild’s lawyers are yet to comment on the matter.
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