An hour-long malfunction in the new air traffic control system was reported on Sunday afternoon.

The glitch was observed at 5pm, when workstations at the air traffic control tower could not process flight plan data from some departing flights.

Hong Kong International Airport. Photo: GovHK.

A spokesperson from the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) said in a press release that some functions of the Tower Electronic Flight Strips System (TEFS), which serves to provide flight plan data of departure and arrival flights to air traffic control officers, were at fault “temporarily and intermittently.”

No flights were affected and the system resumed operation after more than an hour at 6.18pm.

The spokesperson added that the control officers were able to “handle this kind of known phenomenon.”

“As in the past, the air traffic engineers try to reboot the TEFS System when they encountered a similar situation, which would not undermine aviation safety,” the spokesperson said.

Simon Li Tin-chui, head of the Civil Aviation Department. Photo:

The new system has been in full use since November 14, but it has run into several problems since it was installed. In early December, CAD made a police report after a local newspaper obtained a leaked radar image from the new system.

Last Friday, director-general of CAD, Simon Li Tin-shui, said that malfunctions with the new air traffic system are “unavoidable” due to its complexity.

“Given the complexity of the new ATMS, even with all reasonable efforts and endeavours, there could still be the possibility of having setbacks during introduction of a new system,” the press release read.

Jeremy Tam Man-ho, a pilot and a lawmaker of Civic Party, accused the CAD of hiding glitches from the public.

An independent expert panel was formed by the CAD in early December to offer advice on issues of the new system, and the panel is expected to release a preliminary report next year.

Koel Chu

Koel Chu is a second-year journalism and fine arts student at the University of Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Koel is interested in the arts and urban design. She interned at China Radio International in Beijing and, at her university, she also works as Vice-President of Branding and Marketing in AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.