My Take

The management of Hong Kong's air traffic is out of control

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 October, 2015, 1:56am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 October, 2015, 1:56am

It's nice of the Americans to have sold us a lemon in the form of an air traffic control system with a price tag of more than half a billion dollars.

And we have been so lucky to have a gullible aviation chief who went out of his way to defend it, causing a delay of three years and with no end in sight for a much-needed new system to control our increasingly crowded skies.

With nothing more to say and no one to believe him, our imperial director-general Norman Lo Shung-man has finally shut up like a little boy. It's now up to Mama to clean up the mess.

So Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor went before the legislature this week to reassure that aviation officials would never use the HK$575.2 million Autotrac 3, made by US defence company Raytheon, until it is fully safe and reliable. Don't you feel safer already?

During a test run last year, controllers lost track of aircraft for 10 seconds. Subsequent tests in July ran into what experts and department insiders aptly called "a catastrophic failure", as the system stopped responding to input. So what to do?

Lam said a worldwide search had been launched to find experts who know what they are doing to help fix the system, meaning the highly paid bozos at the Civil Aviation Department from Lo downwards had no idea what to do, even though they had for a long time claimed to have fixed the problems.

Meanwhile, Lam added the government was considering expanding the department and allocating more resources to it to cope with the growth of the airport and the aviation industry. To get more frontline resources?

No, but to create - and I quote - more "senior management posts". Say what? More people like Lo?

If the past is any guide, Lo will go into retirement soon with his full package of millions and not a single penalty imposed. He will also leave behind beautifully constructed but unauthorised structures like his personal shower room at the department headquarters, along with HK$67.45 million worth of unapproved security and electronic systems.

And no one in our government will bother to chase Raytheon for compensation or costs, preferring, as usual, to waste many more millions of taxpayer money to fix a "new" system that has not even been put into operation. Go figure!