Hot air balloons set for commercial success in Taiwan
An amendment to civil aviation regulations is presently being discussed in Taiwan, with a proposal that hot air balloons should be included as a regulated method of transport for fare-paying passengers.
The country’s first hot air balloon festival was held last summer in eastern Taiwan and proved such a success that a radical update of air travel is now being taken very seriously, with a public hearing being held on the amendments required to legalise hot air balloons for civilian travel.
Although hot air ballooning is popular in many countries, tight regulations cover their use in Taiwan, with the CAA having to grant special dispensation for the festival to go ahead last year. Due to the popularity of the first event, the Taitung County Government is in the throes of planning the second hot air balloon festival at the moment, which is scheduled to be held in June. A number of countries are participating, including the UK, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Lithuania, displaying over twenty hot air balloons between them.
In Taiwan at the moment, only aeroplanes and helicopters are licensed for commercial flights, although the Taitung County Government recently acquired two hot air balloons and has already agreed to sponsor training in the US for five people to qualify as hot air balloon pilots. Once the necessary paperwork has been completed for the hot air balloons and the pilots have completed 35 hours of flying time, the hot air balloons can be legally operated on a commercial basis.