This chapter introduces the balloon pilot to Title 14
of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) and
provides a discussion on required and preventative
The FAA's mandate from the federal government is
to regulate aviation and aeronautics to protect
passengers and people on the ground. Title 14 of the
Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) is designed
to promote safety.
Balloon pilots primarily need to be conversant with
the following regulations.
• 14 CFR part 1: Definitions and
• 14 CFR part 31: Airworthiness Standards:
Manned Free Balloons.
• 14 CFR part 43: Maintenance, Preventive
Maintenance, Rebuilding, and Alteration.
• 14 CFR part 61: Certification: Pilots, Flight
Instructors, and Ground Instructors.
• 14 CFR part 91: General Operating and
• NTSB part 830: Rules Pertaining to the
Notification and Reporting of Aircraft Accidents or
Incidents and Overdue Aircraft.
Regulations are continually being revised and a good
pilot should have some method for keeping up with
the latest changes. Some ways to learn regulatory
changes are to subscribe to balloon magazines,
newsletters, and to attend safety seminars regularly.
Some state and local governments have created laws
governing balloon flight and some of these local laws
conflict with FAA regulations. It is the responsibility
of the pilot to know under what regulations they are
operating the balloon. On the ground, the pilot, chase
crew, and chase vehicle are subject to local laws.
Balloonists should be knowledgeable of local trespass
laws, which can vary from area to area.
There are two kinds of maintenance, (1) preventive
maintenance, which consists of a specific list of work
that may be performed by the owner/operator of an
aircraft; and (2) all other maintenance, which must be
performed by an authorized repairman at a certificated
repair station, a certificated mechanic, or the
manufacturer. A well-maintained balloon is safer and
easier to fly than a poorly-maintained balloon.
Every balloon must have an annual inspection and, if
used for commercial purposes, 100-hour inspections.
An annual inspection may be performed by a
certificated repair station or by a certificated mechanic
(A&P) with inspection authorization (IA) who is
familiar with the balloon, has the manufacturer's
instructions for continued airworthiness, pertinent
Airworthiness Directives (ADs), and all required
documentation, tools, and equipment.
All manufacturers specify maximum allowable
damage in their instructions for continued
airworthiness. If the maximum damage is exceeded,
the balloon must be repaired before the next flight.
Some damage may be repaired by the owner/operator,
but most requires repair by certificated personnel.
Service letters and service bulletins are not mandatory
but compliance is recommended. ADs are mandatory
and must be complied with as directed.