Etihad flight that circled Hong Kong for four hours before safe landing had autopilot failure

Gulf-based airline issues statement week after incident above city skies

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 11:47pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 1:45pm

An Etihad Airways flight that took off from Hong Kong and circled the city last week for four hours suffered from an autopilot system failure, the airline has said.

Flight EY833 left Hong Kong at 6.47pm on January 11 on its way to Abu Dhabi when it asked for emergency landing services to be placed on standby.

The Airport Authority said the plane was circling at an altitude of between 4,000 feet and 11,000 feet for more than four hours. The A330 aircraft burned off fuel as it prepared to return to Hong Kong International Airport.

“We received a call at 8pm and EY833 from Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi requested a return to Hong Kong and request for local standby,” it said.

After achieving the desired aircraft weight, a safe landing was eventually performed
Etihad Airlines

A week later, Etihad said that on the day in question “a flight from Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi experienced a flight control system fault after take-off, which resulted in the loss of the aircraft’s autopilot capability”.

It said the crew “completed the required checklists and after assessing the situation decided to return” to Hong Kong. As the aircraft lacked a jettison function, “the aircraft entered a holding pattern ... to burn extra fuel,” it added.

“After achieving the desired aircraft weight, a safe landing was eventually performed at Hong Kong airport.”

The Gulf-based carrier said there was no damage or injury to passengers or crew members as a result of the landing. It added that its local civil aviation authority had commenced an investigation.

Civic Party lawmaker and professional pilot Jeremy Tam Man-ho explained local standby meant aircraft were given priority for landing and fire cover in the form of rescue and firefighting vehicles following the aircraft to a parking bay.