Hot Air Ballooning in Albuquerque | What’s At Stake

Get Things Moving In The Right Direction

Feb 23, 2022

Albuquerque, NM, the “Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World” is in need of the public’s support.

The FAA and ATC are enforcing an irrelevant ruling for hot air balloons (both commercial and recreational) that requires an ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) integrated into permanent electrical systems onboard aircraft in order to fly in Class C airspace; however, balloons have no such permanent electrical systems.

As such, balloonists have been forced to abandon their normal flight area in Albuquerque in order to abide by this enforcement, since they are unable to abide by just integration of the ADS-B alone. This not only affects the tourism business, as well as New Mexico’s world-renowned reputation as the Ballooning Capital of the World, but it is also causing some serious safety concerns. We’re worried this will be an even greater safety issue for pilots flying during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®, as they will not have had the experience flying in that airspace the rest of the year.

If you would like to help us spread the word and reach out to your local government officials to provide an exemption to this ruling for hot air balloons, below is a sample letter and contacts to call and/or email on behalf of the Hot Air Ballooning Community:

 

Dear _________,

The hot balloon community in Albuquerque needs support and action on an unprecedented FAA/Air Traffic Control issue that is enforcing a rule to terminally end the hot air ballooning industry in the state of New Mexico only. The 91.225 code of federal regulation prevents balloons from flying over the city and now requires an ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) for hot air balloon flights when flying in Class C airspace. Yet there are no approved units or installation directives for this to happen.

This will be detrimental to the industry, the sport, and the culture that Albuquerque, and New Mexico as a whole, has been made world-famous for. The ruling appears to exempt hot air balloons because the ADS-B device must be integrated into the permanent onboard electrical systems of the aircraft, and hot air balloons do not have any such permanent electrical systems.

However, the ATC and FAA began actively enforcing this ruling for balloons in the Albuquerque area in September 2021. This active enforcement not only violates the perceived exemption listed above, but also precedence. There is not another city where this is enforced for balloon aircraft.

There is concern this could also be a safety issue for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. During the festival, hundreds of pilots will be flying in airspace that is no longer familiar because they have been banned from it the rest of the year.

Your assistance in advocating for a permanent waiver or Letter of Agreement for this rule for hot air balloons with the FAA/ATC will not only help secure the reputation of New Mexico and Albuquerque as the Ballooning Capital of the World, but will also create a safer environment for flying during the world’s largest international balloon festival.

Thank you for your consideration and service to the community.

 

Mayor Tim Keller:
[email protected]
(505) 768-3000

Governor Michelle Grisham:
d[email protected] (best contact)
(505) 476-2200

Senator Martin Heinrich:
[email protected] (best contact)

Senator Ben Ray Lujan:
[email protected]

House Representative Yvette Herrell (R):
[email protected] (aid/best contact)

House Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez (D):
[email protected] (aid/best contact)

House Representative Melanie Stansbury (D):
[email protected] (staff assistant/best contact)

Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Real:
[email protected] (best contact is via his assistant Illiana Molina)

Interim Aviation Director Richard McCurley:
[email protected]

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