The Civil Aviation Department (CAD) has been accused of a safety cover-up concerning its controversial air traffic management system (ATMS).
In a late-night statement on Wednesday, the aviation regulator confirmed that the much-criticized system was involved in six separate safety incidents last month which were not previously disclosed to the public, following a report by news agency FactWire.
Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho, who is also a pilot, hit out at the department for not being honest with the public. Tam previously helped whistle-blowers reveal a number of problems stemming from the HK$1.56 billion system.
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The incidents, known as "loss of separation" – a minimum distance for aircraft to reduce the risk of mid-air collisions – were reported to have occurred between January 13 and 30. The department classified them as "minor incidents" and "minor technical incidents."
The days spanned the Lunar New Year holiday, one of the busiest travel periods.
Earlier, the department had praised the reliability of the system over the holiday, during which record flight activity was recorded and air traffic services were maintained in a "safe and efficient manner".
Since the commissioning of the ATMS in November, it has developed a series of glitches including aircraft disappearing from radar, aircraft that did not exist appearing on radar, and the duplication of flight symbols on screens confusing controllers.
Further serious problems have overwhelmed the radar system and caused departing flights to be delayed.
A CAD spokeswoman said following an investigation there was "no evidence" to suggest that the six incidents were related to the new air traffic management system. She said other factors to consider included inclement weather and human factors.