Hong Kong aviation

Ex-director general of Hong Kong civil aviation Norman Lo dies aged 60

Norman Lo Shung-man dies less than a year after leaving top job at Civil Aviation Department, which he served for almost four decades

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 March, 2017, 4:24pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 March, 2017, 11:01pm

Norman Lo Shung-man, the former director general of civil aviation in Hong Kong, has died. He was 60 years old.

The long-serving chief of the city’s aviation regulator left his post in May last year with a chequered record after 12 years in the top job and having served the department for almost four decades.

Simon Li Tin-chui, his successor at the Civil Aviation Department, expressed deep sadness at the “untimely” death and extended his condolences to Lo’s family.

“Lo took an active part in developing Hong Kong into an international aviation centre and air logistics hub,” a statement from the department said.

“The staff at the CAD were sorry to learn of Lo’s untimely death. The department will provide assistance to his family.”

Lo exited the job amid a storm over a new air traffic control system commissioned during his tenure that was blamed for flight delays and disruptions.

He also fielded criticism over problems with the construction of the department’s new headquarters.

He was publicly criticised by the Audit Commission and the Legislative Council’s Public Accounts Committee for installing extra facilities such as a shower room in his office that did not have approval from the government. He was forced to apologise.

Earlier this year, he was one of two senior officials found guilty of misconduct for his role in the matter.

Hong Kong aviation director Norman Lo slammed over unauthorised headquarters work

Lo, who held a professional pilot’s licence, joined the aviation regulator in 1977 as a student air traffic control officer. He climbed the ranks and was appointed operations officer in 1988, going on to become chief operations officer in 1996. He was eventually made deputy director general of the department in 2002 in a stepping stone to the top job.

Albert Lam Kwong-yu, his predecessor who served as the head of civil aviation from 1998 to 2004, played a key role in manoeuvring Lo towards the helm of the department.

Expressing shock and sadness, Lam said: “Technically, he proved himself as a controller and a pilot ... and he understood the job and the industry.”

James Tong Wai-pong, who worked closely with Lo while chief executive of airline Dragonair, now known as Cathay Dragon, and as a senior director at Cathay Pacific, said: “He spoke out for his passion for aviation in getting the third runway approved. The whole department, led by him, was instrumental in that.”

Lo was a “skilled operator” who “knew aviation inside out ... And as a working partner, he understood the issues right away,” Tong said.

However, Jeremy Tam Man-ho, a professional pilot and member of the Legislative Council who was instrumental in blowing the whistle on the failings of the new air traffic control system, lamented Lo’s passing while a cloud remained over the system and an investigation by the Legislative Council was ongoing.