Ethiopian Airways flight came within 570 metres of Hong Kong hill authorities reveal, and say they are investigating four serious ‘loss of control’ incidents in city’s skies

Ethiopian Airways flight came within 570 metres of Hong Kong hill authorities reveal, and say they are investigating four serious ‘loss of control’ incidents in city’s skies

  • Ethiopian jet was carrying 235 people and passed perilously close to Tai Mo Shan on July 18
  • Boeing 787s belonging to Ethihad Airways and Virgin Atlantic also involved in other incidents between July and October last year
The cases involve four Boeing 787s from various airlines. Photo: EPA

Air accident officials are investigating after an Ethiopian Airways flight carrying almost 250 people veered off course, lost altitude, and came within 570 metres of the highest peak in Hong Kong on its approach to the city’s international airport.

The incident on July 18 last year is one of four serious “loss of control” mishaps the Air Accident Investigation Authority (AAIA) revealed it was looking into. All involved Boeing 787s deviating from flight paths at similar locations above Hong Kong.

Aircraft belonging to Etihad Airways and Virgin Atlantic were also involved in similar incidents between July and October 2019.

In the first incident, the Ethiopian jet with 235 people on board was lining up to land using an instrument landing system (ILS), or localiser, which helps guide pilots, but deviated from its flight path.

According to an AAIA report, the aircraft kept diverging to about 1 nautical mile (1.85km) north from its flight path, and descended to a lower altitude of 3,700 ft, where the distance between it and “the height of 3,277 ft was 570 metres” – a description understood to be referring to the Tai Mo Shan area.
All four incidents occurred at the “River” waypoint, which is a type of fixed aerial location to help aircraft navigate as they pass over Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest peak.

None of the jets suffered any form of damage and each landed uneventfully.

Three of the most recent cases involving the Etihad and Virgin 787s were disclosed this week, after the AAIA published preliminary reports, setting out the facts of the incidents and appealing for interested parties – including airlines, aircraft manufacturers and aviation regulators from respective countries – to submit information.