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LCQ4: Occurrence cases of Cathay Pacific Airways

     Following is a question by the Hon Lau Wong-fat and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (February 15):


     The aircraft of Cathay Pacific Airways (CX) has been involved in various incidents (including engine failure, cracking of the cockpit windshield and smoke in the cabin, etc.) one after another recently.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the details of the incidents involving CX aircraft in the past two years;

(b) whether it has looked into the reasons why recently the number of incidents involving CX aircraft has increased rapidly; and

(c) of the measures taken by the regulatory authorities in respect of the recent increase in aircraft incidents?



     Our reply to Hon Lau Wong-fat's question is as follows:

(a) and (b) The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has promulgated very stringent standards on aviation safety.  All the relevant legislation of Hong Kong, including those on mandatory occurrence reporting, is in line with the requirements of ICAO.

     In accordance with ICAO requirements, the Administration has set out the details of the mandatory occurrence reporting mechanism in the Air Navigation (Hong Kong) Order 1995 (Cap 448, sub. leg. C), which requires that all holders of Air Operator's Certificate shall make a report on any reportable occurrence to the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) within 96 hours of the occurrence.  Under the mandatory occurrence reporting mechanism, reportable occurrences include damage to aircraft, injury of person (including flight and cabin crews), multiple systems or equipment malfunction, false fire alarm, and communication system malfunction, etc.

     The objectives of the mandatory occurrence reporting mechanism and the requirement for the local airlines to report the details of occurrences are to equip CAD with the detailed information of the occurrences, so as to facilitate analysis and to formulate necessary follow-up and improvement measures, and to prevent recurrence.

     Regarding aircraft accidents and serious incidents, CAD will conduct detailed investigation in accordance with the requirements in local legislation and the Convention on International Civil Aviation.  CAD will also publish the details of the occurrences to the public.

     In 2010 and 2011, the Cathay Pacific Airways reported a total of 454 and 341 cases of mandatory occurrences to CAD, amongst which 156 and 98 reports were related to mechanical problems on airframe or avionics systems.  The rest of the cases were related to flight operations, including in-flight turbulences leading to bodily injury (including flight and cabin crews), bird strikes, false alarms, unruly passengers, and incidents relating to cargo handling.

     CAD has examined all reported cases and concluded that none of them has any direct or immediate effect on flight safety.  According to the results from CAD's examination, amongst the cases relating to mechanical problems mentioned above, 126 cases (or 80%) in 2010 and 89 cases (or 90%) in 2011 were classified as presenting low or no risk to aviation safety.  However, these might cause flight service disruption such as flight delay.  In this connection, the airlines concerned had made effective measures and arrangements as necessary.  The rest of the cases did not constitute immediate safety issues and the airlines concerned had already conducted detailed examination on the aircraft according to CAD's requirements within the prescribed timeframe, so as to ensure aviation safety.

     Compared with 2010, the number of mandatory occurrence cases reported by the Cathay Pacific Airways in 2011 has reduced by 113 cases (or about 25%).  From the statistics, there is no indication that there is any rapid increase in the number of aircraft occurrence.

(c) In 2010 and 2011, CAD received a total of 642 and 519 cases of mandatory occurrence reports respectively.  About 35% (411 cases) were related to mechanical problems while about 65% (750 cases) involved flight operations issues.

     Upon receipt of the reports, CAD would collect detailed information relating to the incident in accordance with CAD's established procedures, and whenever necessary, approach the relevant airlines and maintenance organisations for further details.  CAD would also conduct assessment according to ICAO's safety management system, to determine the course of follow-up actions required, and consider if the incident is an individual case or there is any adverse trend which may warrant more comprehensive analysis.

     CAD will also make recommendations on the improvement measures to be implemented by the airlines.  Under normal circumstances, airlines are required to report the details of the occurrence within six months, and to provide details of the occurrence and follow-up actions taken by the airlines and related persons such as the maintenance organisations and improvement measures suggested by the airlines.  CAD will follow up the cases proactively and closely liaise with the airlines to ensure all the improvement measures are implemented effectively.

     To prevent recurrence, CAD would perform an overall analysis on all the reported occurrences regularly. Whenever necessary, recommendations on improvement measures would be made to the airlines and the maintenance organisations to ensure aircraft and passenger safety.

     CAD would perform aircraft inspections according to established procedures, such as document examination in regard to design approvals, component installation and system testing; and to conduct on-site surveys of aircraft modifications and maintenance procedures.  This is to ensure that aircraft and the associated components comply with the required airworthiness standards.   

     CAD would also conduct random inspections and checks on the fleets of local airlines, to ensure that the stringent international standards on airworthiness are met.  In fact, aircraft structure and components have to undergo regular maintenance, inspection and testing in accordance to the aircraft maintenance schedule approved by CAD, before the Certificate of Airworthiness with one-year validity is granted.

     In conclusion, an aircraft, irrespective of its age, must be maintained in accordance with the required schedule to ensure compliance with the required maintenance and safety standards.

     CAD has performed a review and analysis on the reported cases of the Cathay Pacific Airways.  The result of the analysis does not indicate any safety issues of the aircraft of the airline.

Ends/Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:13


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