The Civil Aviation Department (CAD) met with Shenzhen Airlines on Wednesday to discuss an incident in which an Airbus A320-200 changed its flight path and flew under the minimum safe altitude near Tian Tan Buddha on June 26.

The department said the pilot who was in charge of the flight in question – ZH9041 – mistook an instruction issued by the air traffic controller to another aircraft as their own, thus deviating from the initial landing procedure. The pilot has been suspended while the investigation is ongoing.

Civil Aviation Department sign and Big Buddha. Photo: HKFP Remix.

Upon examining relevant information from the day of the incident, Shenzhen Airlines concluded that the flight deviation was initiated by the pilot, the CAD told Ming Pao.

Both the CAD and Shenzhen Airlines said the flight in question was not at risk of colliding with any buildings or aircraft, which includes the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island.

The Tian Tan Buddha. Photo: Wikicommons.

When flight ZH9041 shifted from its regular path as it prepared for landing last month, air traffic control immediately instructed it to climb to a safe altitude as it was flying at about 3,000 feet, below the minimum safety altitude of 4,300 feet, reported aviation news outlet The Aviation Herald.

The flight proceeded to fly over Lantau Island, near the Tian Tan Buddha, at the same height. The statue is 2,519 feet at the top of its elevation. The flight later climbed to safety at 6,000 feet and landed safely at the Hong Kong International Airport.


Gene Lin

Gene Lin is a Journalism and Computer Science student at The University of Hong Kong. He worked as a reporter for the 'LIVE: Verified Updates' during the Occupy Central protests. He is also an editor at HKU's first English-language student paper, The Lion Post.