WASHINGTON — An internal Federal Aviation Administration report more than three years ago urged greater safety oversight of the hot air balloon tour industry, but agency officials ignored the warning and later rejected similar recommendations from a federal accident investigations board.

The November 2012 report, written by an FAA safety official, strongly urges agency officials to impose the same level of oversight to the commercial balloon industry as that applied to airplane and helicopter tour companies. The report cites a high balloon tour accident rate and significant economic incentives for balloon companies to take safety risks.

The National Transportation Safety Board made the same recommendations in 2014, warning of the potential for a high-fatality crash. Both the internal FAA report and the NTSB recommended that commercial balloon tour companies be required to obtain “letters of authorization” from the FAA. That would force the companies to submit safety plans and have them approved by the FAA. It would also subject the companies to occasional FAA inspections and other safety oversight.

But FAA Administrator Michael Huerta rejected the recommendations in November 2015, telling the board the risk posed by balloon tours is “low” despite his agency’s own report warning of a safety gap.

Sixteen people were killed Saturday in a fiery balloon tour crash in Texas. NTSB officials, who are investigating the crash, said the balloon hit high-tension wires before exploding into a fireball.

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