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Officials: Albuquerque balloon flights get FAA clearance

March 16, 2022 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration will allow Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta flights this October without requiring balloonists to install new tracking equipment as required under a federal rule, FAA and city officials announced Wednesday.

“Today, our pilots are cleared for takeoff and we’re ready to celebrate a half century of the Balloon Fiesta as planned,” Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement.

The statement said balloonists can sign a letter of agreement developed by the FAA outlining safety requirements for navigating Albuquerque’s airspace, “the majority of which are already best practices for most balloonists.”

Meanwhile, the FAA will conduct research and consultations to reach a permanent solution by next March, the announcement said.

The agreement also covers year-round flights over Albuquerque.

“We recognize the important role that hot air ballooning plays in New Mexico’s culture. The FAA has reached an agreement that enables balloon pilots to continue flying safely in the region while we work on a long-term solution,” FAA Regional Administrator Rob Lowe. said in the announcement statement.

Keller, members of the New Mexico’s congressional delegation and others had called on the FAA to waive the requirement for the technology.