POTENTIAL chaos in the South China skies has been predicted by a leading engineer whose multi-national electrical contracting company is involved in airport projects around the Pearl River delta. ''Airports are either being built or expanded in Hongkong, Macau, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Guangzhou,'' said the source, who declined to be named for fear of jeopardising China-based contracts. ''By the end of the decade the air traffic over this region is going to be very heavy, yet each airport is developing its own isolated air traffic management and control centres,'' he said. ''This eventually will cause immense problems in air space management. It is possible we'll see planes colliding all over the region,'' the engineer said. He added that Hongkong's Civil Aviation department was setting up its own secondary surveillance system covering the territory's airspace. ''Zhuhai is also looking for a system, but only requires one to cover its airspace, while Macau and Shenzhen will have their own systems. ''There is no central traffic control authority to monitor the entire region and that is what we need. ''In airspace terms all these airports are in spitting distance of each other and pilots depending on wind conditions are more or less on the same approach. ''However, the political implications of a shared traffic control system have limited action while economically no one wants to foot the bill to set one up. ''Eventually we will arrive at the stage when the isolated air traffic systems are made obsolete by the increasing density of traffic, which will force the creation of a central agency looking after the air-space covering all the airports in the region,'' the engineer said. ''This will see all the money spent on developing individual systems wasted as these separate systems will be redundant,'' he said. Although admitting the importance of co-operation and the possibility that future air traffic increases would force the opening of a single central control centre responsible for the region's airspace, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Department said there was ''plenty of time'' before a co-ordinated air traffic system was required. ''There is ongoing discussion and regular meetings with Chinese authorities about the implications of increasing traffic on airspace management. ''Of course the segregation of air traffic is very important and we already have a system working with authorities at Shenzhen airport to make sure there are no problems with the overlapping use of airspace. ''One of the options is to have a central air traffic agency but everyone has to agree and we are a long way from finalising anything,'' the spokesman said. He confirmed the Civil Aviation Department was looking at buying equipment for individual air traffic control systems. But he disagreed with claims that equipment designed for an isolated system would be made obsolete by the inevitable creation of a co-ordinated system for all airports in the region.