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Air-traffic controllers the key element

Letters to the Editor, July 27, 2013

Saturday, 27 July, 2013, 12:00am


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Better runway efficiency is needed. Photo: David Wong

Air-traffic controllers the key element

How refreshing to read Albert Cheng King-hon’s opinion on the third runway proposal for Hong Kong International Airport (“Hong Kong must exhaust all other options before building third runway [1]“, July 19).

Mr Cheng highlighted that the airport has issues with its airspace constraints, particularly through Chinese airspace and also with weather. However, I believe air traffic control to be the prime constraint on movements. I am not apportioning blame on the air-traffic controllers, but the limitations imposed on them; 64 flights an hour is too low a limit.

I operate regularly in and out of Hong Kong and other worldwide major airports. London Heathrow would be at the pinnacle of efficiency in terms of utilisation of its two runways.

This is primarily down to the exceptional air traffic control in the area. Hong Kong has the latent talent in air-traffic control to replicate Heathrow’s success. I would recommend training a group of officers in Britain, exchange programmes, sharing knowledge and practices and further recruitment, locally and from overseas. This would go a long way towards improving the air-traffic control efficiency at our airport. This is only possible with the Civil Aviation Department’s backing and financial commitment.

By taking this bold step, the department could position itself as the Asian authority on air-traffic control and create opportunities for the training of local and regional air-traffic control officers, regaining some of the costs incurred.

The department should focus on air-traffic control first to improve efficiency with the current runways because if it is not possible with two runways, then it certainly won’t be with three.

Keith Moran, Discovery Bay


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