Why English matters for China’s military pilots in Hong Kong

Speaking English is essential for communicating with air traffic control, driving pilots to memorise words and listen to recordings as part of their daily routine

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 10:51am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 4:09pm

Practising English is part of the daily routine of Hong Kong-based PLA pilots, as they need to be able to speak fluent English when they are on duty.

Zheng Jiazhong, a pilot with PLA’s Hong Kong garrison, said English is the working language for communicating with city aviation control when on board, according to a report on People.cn, the website of People’s Daily.

Zheng and other pilots strive to improve their English by memorising words and listening to tapes.

On June 1, Zheng captained a manoeuvre conducted over the New Territories.

Since Hong Kong has heavy air traffic, pilots need to stay in contact with the civil aviation department’s control tower to give reports related to flights.

Simon Li Tin-Chui, director-general of the Hong Kong civil aviation department, was quoted by People’s Daily as saying that the pilots in Zheng’s group have built good communication with civil aviation and praised their professionalism.

PLA carrier sets off for drills and a port call in Hong Kong

Besides the language barrier, taking off from Hong Kong, which is surrounded by skyscrapers, also is tough. Zheng and his fellow soldiers said they adapt to local conditions through hours of daily training.

The report said training hours had tripled since the group was first sent to the city.

Helicopter pilot Hu Ping said he never had a chance to look at the city’s landmarks apart from watching them from the sky.

The helicopters from PLA Hong Kong garrison seldom fly over Victoria Harbour and he could only view the famous night scenery of the city from afar.

“Victoria Harbour has the best scenery in Asia, but I could only enjoy the view from the sky when I am on duty,” Hu said in a video released by PLA’s video website, 81 TV.

Hong Kong’s PLA garrison no longer just symbolic, top brass say

The Shek Kong barrack has opened its gates to visitors once a year since 1997.

State media has been rolling out footage and reports about PLA Hong Kong garrison as part of its publicity campaign in the run-up to President Xi Jinping’s visit for the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover.