Hong Kong aviation authorities are under fire over lax standards after an incident last year in which a Cathay Pacific cargo pilot reportedly was asleep while the plane was coming in to land.
Labor Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan is accusing the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) of not doing enough to address pilot fatigue from overwork, Apple Daily reports.
Lee wants transport chief Anthony Cheung to explain how the captain on a Cathay Pacific freighter reportedly had to be woken by his co-pilot to remind him they were about to land.
The incident, which Lee said is widely known in the airline industry, happened over Alaska in July last year.
The plane landed safely.
Media reports said the captain “appeared to be dozing off” when the aircraft was about to land in Anchorage.
In a written reply to the Legislative Council, Cheung said Cathay Pacific and CAD “found no evidence to support the allegation that both pilots had fallen asleep in any phase of the flight”.
Cheung said CAD regulations cap pilots’ standby and actual flight times at 23 hours after a 2010 review.
He said CAD is studying whether the cap should be changed.
Lee criticized the 23-hour rule as a form of neglect, saying 17 hours of wakefulness already has the effect of 0.05 per cent blood alcohol content.
He said CAD should change the rule immediately to ensure passenger safety.
Cathay Pacific had nearly 1,100 reports regarding cabin crew fatigue in 2014 alone, up 38 percent from a year earlier, Lee said.
The Transport and Housing Bureau said the risk was not as high as indicated since only 29 of those reports needed to be filed with CAD under mandatory reporting rules.
A Cathay Pacific captain said fatigue is a serious issue that remains unresolved while pilots continue to struggle with inadequate rest.
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