My Take

We are in good hands with Cathay Pacific pilots

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 September, 2015, 1:35am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 September, 2015, 1:35am

I have never been a fan of Cathay Pacific, having travelled too many times in its cattle class where cabin staff seem to go out of their way to put you in your place.

On the other hand, I consider feeling unimportant far less important than feeling safe knowing your plane is piloted by professionals. Most of the time, I am indifferent to British, Canadian or Aussie accents. But I find the overhead announcements by Cathay captains in one of those accents strangely reassuring.

When I was a local news reporter and editor, I used to complain how local papers were always reporting near misses and close calls with Cathay planes while we never got to report a real disaster. Sorry, it's the unforgivable bloodlust of a newshound.

The latest incident was a Cathay plane forced to make an emergency landing in Bali, Indonesia, because an engine caught fire. No one was injured.

Now, escaping disasters once or twice may be put down to good luck. But since Cathay pilots have been able to do it time and again you are beginning to think perhaps skill, training and experience have to do with it as much as dumb luck. It is not for nothing that our home airline is one of the safest in the world, and that's something we should be proud of and brag about.

In March last year, Cathay Flight 748 made an emergency landing in Johannesburg after birds were sucked into one engine. In November 2012, a Cathay plane landed safely in Alaska after the cabin suddenly lost pressure.

The year before, another flight made an unscheduled landing after an engine blew up.

And in a heroic act of aviation, two Cathay pilots landed Flight 780 safely in April 2010 at twice the normal speed after both of its engines malfunctioned in mid-air. Fifty-seven people were injured but no one died. Both pilots were given the Polaris Award by the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations.

You might have read from the late Michael Crichton's Airframe that modern aircraft are amazing machineries so fully automated they practically fly themselves. But it's when crucial parts of the machine stop functioning that the true pilot has to take over.

Cathay pilots are often considered pampered and overpaid. I for one think they are probably worth every penny.