The managing director of the company that formerly operated the Lantau cable car has denied being negligent in relation to an empty gondola that fell 50 metres onto a hillside during a nighttime brake test in June last year. Bill Calderwood, who headed the former cable car operator Skyrail-ITM (HK), flew from Australia for the hearing at Tsuen Wan Court yesterday. He pleaded not guilty to a charge alleging that he failed to provide the necessary procedures and instruction to officers during the cable car brake test on June 11, causing danger to the public. Tsuen Wan Principal Magistrate Andrew Ma Hon-cheung adjourned the case to February 18 for a pretrial hearing at which a trial date will be set. The trial is expected to run for five weeks with the prosecution calling more than 12 witnesses. Senior assistant director of public prosecutions Patrick Cheung Wai-sun indicated yesterday the present charge would probably be consolidated and tried with others stemming from the accident. Skyrail-ITM (HK) is scheduled to appear on a similar negligence charge on January 30 before the same court. Its assistant maintenance manager, Thomas Li Kit-loi, appeared in court in November and denied failing to consult the manufacturer before the test, negligently performing the test, and negligently supervising his assistant during the test. All the summonses were issued under the Aerial Ropeways (Safety) Ordinance. The charges carry a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment and a HK$10,000 fine. The MTR Corporation took over operation of the HK$1 billion attraction on Lantau from the Australia-based Skyrail-ITM in September after a government inquiry said the former operator poorly managed and maintained the cable car system, leading to the accident. The cable car reopened on December 31.