A trainee flight mechanic yesterday admitted he had cut more than a dozen electrical wires in an airliner's computer system to impede its functions and take revenge on his boss.
Tang Wing-hon, 19, pleaded guilty to recklessly damaging property that endangered people's safety.
The District Court heard he cut the wires of the Boeing 767 after his supervisor at flight-maintenance company Haeco told him off in an "unceremonious manner" for making a mistake on the job.
An earlier court hearing on March 12 heard that the damage was inflicted some time between February 11 and March 1 while the aircraft, owned by the Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company, was being serviced at Hong Kong International Airport.
Had the damage not been discovered before take-off, the plane's autopilot and satellite communications system would not have worked properly, prosecutor Frederick Chung told the court.
Adjourning sentence to September 15, Judge Frankie Yiu Fun-che asked the prosecution for more details on the effect of cutting the wires and the "worst-case scenario" the damage could have caused.
The cut wires in two of the plane's main computers were spotted before the plane took off on a scheduled flight to Hawaii and swiftly repaired at a cost of HK$86,892, Chung told the court.
"Under police caution, the defendant revealed that he was told off in an unceremonious manner by his [boss] because he made a mistake at work," the prosecutor said.
"The defendant wanted [his boss] to be blamed by more senior managers for not spotting the damage."
Tang was also charged with cutting other wires, but the prosecution asked for this to be kept on court files after he admitted the first charge.
The judge said that although it was a serious charge, he would keep the punishment options open because of the offender's youth. He ordered a psychological report and a report on Tang's suitability for training centre.
Outside court, lawyer Joseph Lam Siu-wah said Tang had been working part-time in food chain Maxim's to save for compensation and could offer HK$15,000.