Date
18 November 2017
Map shows Cathay Dragon flight KA8348's return to Hong Kong halfway to Japan (inset). The flight later resumed, about four hours behind schedule. Photo: Bloomberg, Flightradar24
Map shows Cathay Dragon flight KA8348's return to Hong Kong halfway to Japan (inset). The flight later resumed, about four hours behind schedule. Photo: Bloomberg, Flightradar24

Cathay Dragon flight forced to return to HK halfway to Japan

A Cathay Dragon flight bound for Komatsu, Japan, returned to Hong Kong about an hour after take-off last week after the pilot forgot to bring a map of the destination airport.

The subsidiary of Cathay Pacific Airways has apologized to the 155 passengers on the Airbus A320-232 plane after the mistake was revealed by the media, promising to investigate the incident, Apple Daily reports.

Flight KA8348, a charter flight, took off at 10:02 a.m. on Thursday from Hong Kong airport and was estimated to arrive at Komatsu airport in western Japan’s in Ishikawa Prefecture at about 3 p.m. local time.

But as the plane was over Taiwan at about 10:58 a.m., the captain announced that he was turning the plane around. The plane landed at Chek Lap Kok Airport at 12:46 p.m.

The captain allegedly told the control tower that he forgot to bring a map of the destination airport, a mistake which might have violated the rules and also endangered passenger safety.

After getting the map, the flight resumed its journey and landed at Komatsu at 6:38 p.m. local time, nearly four hours behind schedule.

Sixty-one of the passengers on board were members of two tourism groups organized by EGL Tours.

A source was quoted as saying that the map of Komatsu Airport was not available at at all times on Cathay Dragon planes because the route is not a regular one, although it is the chief pilot’s responsibility to make sure he had it before take-off.

The Civil Aviation Department said it was informed soon after the incident and staff at the control tower reacted by following established procedures, adding that it has been following up on the incident.

A Cathay Dragon spokesman said an investigation has been launched.

Civic Party lawmaker and former pilot Jeremy Tam said the incident should be seen as an isolated case and the chief pilot’s decision to make a U-turn was correct since he might not be able to land safely without a map, according to Headline Daily.

Komatsu Airport is the gateway to some popular tourist attractions in western Japan, including the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and the historic villages of Shirakawa Township, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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