An Air China flight managed to avoid catastrophe on Sunday night shortly after taking off from the Hong Kong airport. Let’s see if you can figure out where exactly things went wrong.
Now, here’s the usual flight path that planes take out of the airport according to tracking data from Flightradar:
And here’s the flight path for flight Ca428 from Hong Kong to Chengdu:
That slight deviation lead to this incredible exchange between pilot and air control officer provided by the South China Morning Post:
14:11 Officer: Air China 428, turn right immediately. Turn right immediately. Heading 0 caution 270. Terrain ahead, expedite climb.
14:20 Officer: Air China 428.
14:22 Pilot: [Inaudible].
14:24 Officer: Air China 428, expedite climb. Terrain ahead. Terrain alert. Expedite climb passing 5,000 feet. Expedite.
14:30 Pilot: [Inaudible]
31:43 Officer: Air China 428.
31:45 Pilot: Hey, here is Air China 428.
31:47 Officer: Um, we will have to file a report about the turn just now so, um, just to let you know.
31:53 Pilot: Um, sorry. OK, I got it.
The “terrain ahead” was in reference to a mountain on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island which the plane managed to avoid after taking an early turn out of the airport. At the time, the plane was flying at 3,400 feet, higher than the highest point on Lantau (3,066 feet), but sill lower than the minimum safe altitude for the area (4,300 feet). Local aviation officials said that the plane posed no danger.
It’s not clear why the plane veered off course or why it took the pilot so long to respond to commands from the air traffic control officer. An Air China spokesman said that there were problems with a busy radio frequency, which lead to the pilot turning first before confirming the directions with the officer.
Or maybe he was actually just busy live broadcasting?
[Images via Wikipedia / SCMP]
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