Texas congressmen back pilot checks after 2016 balloon crash

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan bill in Congress would put more regulations on hot air balloon pilots following a Texas crash last year that killed 16 people.

The bill filed Monday comes after federal investigators scolded the Federal Aviation Administration for lax oversight in the wake of the July 2016 balloon crash near Lockhart, Texas, the deadliest in U.S. history.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, signed onto the bill as did Texas Republican Reps. Blake Farenthold and Will Hurd 

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded last week that Alfred “Skip” Nichols was probably impaired by Valium, opioids and other drugs before takeoff.

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The NTSB called for hot air balloon pilots to get the same medical certification as pilots for airplanes or helicopters. The FAA says it will consider the recommendations, but Texas lawmakers believe it will take Congress to force changes.