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Hong Kong aviation

Hong Kong Airlines flight cleared for take-off while Cathay Pacific plane was crossing runway

Report on incident shows air traffic controllers ordered passenger jet to abort take-off soon after; an investigation is under way to determine details

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 January, 2018, 11:33am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 January, 2018, 2:54pm

Controllers cleared a Hong Kong Airlines flight for take-off 30 seconds after allowing another plane to cross the same runway, then ordered it to abort, a report on last month’s near collision at Hong Kong International Airport stated.

The preliminary findings of an ongoing investigation involving a Hong Kong Airlines passenger jet and a Cathay Pacific cargo carrier were published in the Civil Aviation Department’s serious incident bulletin on Tuesday.

According to the report, the Hong Kong Airlines A330 aircraft was awaiting take-off behind a departing aircraft at runway 07R at 1.05pm on December 23.

About 15 seconds later, a Cathay Pacific Airways B747 cargo plane that had just landed from Alaska on the same runway told aircraft controllers that it was approaching the taxiway J11 holding point, which was located at the departure end of the runway.

The controller instructed the cargo plane to hold at the taxiway as another aircraft was departing from the runway but gave it clearance to cross a minute later at 1.06pm. The instruction was read back by the Cathay pilots.

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About 30 seconds later, the controller cleared the Hong Kong Airlines flight for take-off, only to be told by Cathay’s pilots that their aircraft was still crossing the runway.

The controller immediately ordered the Hong Kong Airlines aircraft to abort take-off and vacate the runway, while the Cathay plane made its way across the runway and taxiway to the cargo apron.

The Hong Kong Airlines flight took off and departed “uneventfully” seven minutes later. No one was injured and no aircraft were damaged, the report said.

“The investigation team conducted interviews with the flight crew of both aircraft and the relevant air traffic control personnel,” the report read.

Aircraft flight documents, maintenance records, flight data, ATC radar and weather information were also collected for investigation purposes.

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“The investigation team will continue to collect and study all relevant information in order to determine the circumstances and cause of the serious incident. More in-depth investigation and analysis have to be conducted before any conclusion can be drawn,” a department spokesperson said separately.

In the report, the department said it had initiated a review and issued instructions to remind all air monitoring controllers (AMC) of the enhanced runway safety procedures in place at the airport.

“To raise the situation awareness of all parties on the same radio frequency, AMC shall pass crossing traffic information to departing aircraft which have lined up on the runway awaiting take-off clearance,” the report read.

In September, flight HX236 to Shanghai, also an A333, had to terminate take-off when its pilots noticed that Air Cargo Global flight CW831, a B744, was crossing the same runway. The two planes were 1km apart when that incident happened.