The drone of light aircraft engines will not be heard over Sai Kung and Clearwater Bay for some time. The Hong Kong Aviation Club has “self-suspended” flying operations following a crash on 24 June wrecking the club’s second Zlin 242L. It was the club’s sixth accident in approximately three years. A senior committee member who doesn’t want to be named told SAI KUNG BUZZ the Civil Aviation Department has been examining the club’s operational and safety procedures for years and continued to let it fly.
A message sent to members two days ago said, “With immediate effect, all flight operations at Shek Kong are self-suspended until further notice.” This means helicopters are grounded as well as fixed wings. A club spokesman said the flying ban will be temporary — an internal safety review is being carried out — and operations will resume when the General Committee is satisfied with improved safety procedures. See Club President Edmond Chan’s letter to BUZZ below.
After the June accident involving a 23-year-old pilot who appeared to be doing aerobatics — a witness said it looked like he was doing “stunt flying” — the Civil Aviation Department conducted a preliminary investigation. The department’s official findings on the crash will not be released for at least a year. The young pilot was lucky to survive. Trees apparently softened the landing but the Zlin will never fly again.
The spokesman said the flight suspension and internal review were to fulfill the CAD’s requirements. A safety seminar will be held too and flying members will be expected to attend. Despite the string of accidents the club has had only one fatality in living memory. That sadly occurred when the first Zlin was pranged three years ago in Tolo Harbour, also doing aerobatics.
LETTER TO SAI KUNG BUZZ FROM AVIATION CLUB’S PRESIDENT
Dear BUZZ Editor
Thank you for sharing your concerns.
After the accident on 24 June 2018, the club immediately conducted an internal review based on our preliminary understanding of the cause of the accident and identified a few areas requiring improvement. The subsequent inspection by CAD also agreed to these observations. These improvement measures, once in place, will be announced to the members by way of Flying Orders or other means as appropriate.
At this stage we do not know when the self-imposed flying suspension will last. While flying is our Club’s bread and butter, as a responsible flying organisation where safety is our top priority, the General Committee and I will not allow flying to resume until we feel comfortable that we have addressed the weaknesses. Please bear with us. We are doing our very best to implement the safety measures and are in very active dialogue with the CAD.
We have organised a safety sharing session on the evening of 20 July (Friday). I encourage all members to attend.
As far as the conditions of the PIC (pilot in command) of the accident is concerned, due to privacy reasons, all we can share is he is recovering very well.
Hope the above addresses your concerns.
Look forward to seeing you soon again at the club.
Hong Kong Aviation Club