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Taiwan may soon allow commercial passenger ballooning

2012/04/24 18:06:05

Taipei, April 24 (CNA) Taiwan's government is taking steps to set up a regulatory framework for hot air balloons in the country that will allow them to carry passengers and become a key vehicle for tourism, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said Tuesday.

Commercial passenger ballooning is currently prohibited in Taiwan because of the lack of regulatory standards, but the government wants to change that after the Taitung County government filed an application with the CAA to launch hot air balloon tourism.

The government plans to revise laws to classify hot air balloons as "international aircraft," which means they will have to be formally registered and undergo regular inspections by the aviation regulator, just as would airplanes and helicopters.

Operators of hot air balloons will also have to be licensed by Taiwan's aviation agency.

The CAA said it plans to categorize hot air balloons as a general aviation business that can conduct tours and serve passengers. Private balloon owners, however, will not be allowed to operate hot air balloons for commercial purposes.

Hot air balloons have been around for over 100 years and have been classified as international aircraft in other countries, the CAA said, and with the conditions for ballooning good in Taiwan, it has decided to develop the sector.

A second public hearing on proposed amendments to related laws will be held on April 25, according to the CAA.

(By Wang Shu-fen and Nell Shen)