Oral Presentation Only

Operating Standards for the High Altitude Ballooning Community

  • Jeremy Straub (University of North Dakota)
  • John Nordlie (University of North Dakota)
  • Ernest Anderson (University of North Dakota)


This paper provides an overview of work to define a set of standards for adoption by the academic high altitude balloon community. These standards go above-and-beyond the requirements imposed by §101 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, incorporating best practices and suggesting how §101 requirements should be interpreted and applied in several situations. One area where FAR§101 is extremely vague is with regards to the operations of balloons with small payloads. These payloads are exempt from most requirements; however, they are required to not create a “hazard”. Problematically, what exactly qualifies as a “hazard” is not defined in FAR§101 or elsewhere (with direct applicability). The definition of “hazard” within the scope of aviation law is explored. Prospective standards for these light-weight payloads to comply with the requirement to not create a hazard are presented and discussed. The paper also considers the value of enacting standards and how they might be adopted. Value, primarily, stems from three areas. First, by enacting the standards, community members (particularly those new to high altitude ballooning) have a clear expectation of how to conduct safe and effective operations. Second, in the event of an incident, adherence to broadly accepted guidelines may have the impact of demonstrating prudent decision making and non-negligent behavior. Third, in the event of an accident, pre-existing voluntary self-regulation may be looked upon favorably by the FAA preventing a reactionary prohibition of high altitude ballooning in the United States or onerous regulations created in response to the incident.

How to Cite:

Straub, J., Nordlie, J. & Anderson, E., (2013) “Operating Standards for the High Altitude Ballooning Community”, Academic High Altitude Conference 2013(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ahac.5600



Published on
01 Jan 2013
Peer Reviewed