Macau airport to help helicopters

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 November, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 November, 1995, 12:00am

HELICOPTERS flying from Hong Kong to Macau are to be allowed to use the new airport's facilities.

The aim is to improve co-ordination after a pilot lost his way and made an unscheduled landing in China this month.

A report by the Macau Civil Aviation Authority into the incident recommended use of the airport's facilities to improve guidance for pilots in trouble.

While concluding the incident two weeks ago was caused by bad weather, a statement from the authority did not discuss why the pilot had failed to use his navigational equipment to guide him to Macau.

It said: 'Because of low visibility ahead, the pilot decided to turn west to look for an area with better visibility.

'But because the situation had not improved, he turned to fly along the coastline in the hope of finding Macau. However, thick fog did not allow the pilot to proceed further and he decided to land on a suitable location next to a highway in China in the interests of the safety of the passengers and the aircraft.' It said the pilot had taken the appropriate action in the circumstances.

But experienced pilots said they were still baffled as to why the pilot appeared to lose his way.

The pilot, Antonio Jose Oliveria Ladeiras, was suspended by the authority after landing his East Asia Airlines Bell 222 helicopter on an overgrown soccer pitch in Zhongshan.

His suspension was lifted this week, but he is being sent by the airline on an emergency flight training course in the United States.

Airline president Captain Pran Parashar said the pilot would fly only after taking a 10-day flight course in Fort Worth, Texas. 'This is a routine course which our pilots take every six months,' he said.

The course will concentrate on simulator work and emergency procedures.

Captain Parashar said he understood the pilot had been confused by the various instructions given by three different air traffic controls - Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Macau - which he had to deal with during the flight. But this was not mentioned in the authority statement.

'He is an experienced pilot and cannot simply get lost,' he said. 'Obviously there was confusion at some stage.' The aircraft, with five passengers on board, circled for an hour before landing.

The passengers were kept in China for 10 hours until immigration details were sorted out, but the pilot was kept for three days by authorities probing the incident.