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Wrong Turn Nearly Causes Air China Mountain Collision

Misunderstood instruction by pilots causes “near-miss” incident with mountain.

Flyers aboard Air China Flight 428 are grateful to be alive after their flight narrowly avoided colliding with a mountain shortly after takeoff. The South China Morning Post reports that the Airbus A320 departing from Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) took a wrong turn, causing the flight to almost meet disaster.

According to flight records, CA428 experienced a normal takeoff from HKG. However, the pilots prematurely made a left turn after climbing to 3,400 feet. The early turn put the aircraft on a bearing towards Lantau Peak, with a height of 3,066 feet. When air traffic controllers noticed the difference, they immediately instructed pilots to turn right and increase their climb rate.

Upon hearing the instructions, the aircraft adjusted their altitude in order to avoid the peak. The last-minute notice spared the aircraft from impact with the mountain, potentially saving everyone aboard. The flight was able to continue to their destination of Chengdu without further incident.

While the aircraft reported a higher altitude than the peak, Hong Kong lawmakers note that the minimum safest altitude for operations over the mountain is 4,300 feet. Officials criticized the pilots for their decision, noting that if it was carrying more passengers or cargo, it may not have successfully climbed to avoid the mountain.

In a statement to the English-language newspaper, the Chinese flag carrier claimed that pilots “had doubt” about the pilot’s instructions during the takeoff phase due to a busy radio channel. The airline told journalists in a statement they would “further strengthen our safety education.” Officials have not announced if they will launch an investigation into the near-miss incident.

Comments are Closed.
Global321 November 5, 2017

While the wrong turn, there was no potential crash issue. The CLIMBING turn started at 3,400. Given the distance to Lantau Peak, the plane likely would have likely cleared 4,200 with ease. Looking at a map, rate of climb, distance, etc, they would have likely been at 5,000 or more when the reached Lantau Peak. Not saying it was wise, but there was ZERO chance of a crash. As others have stated, click bait.

MillionMiles June 27, 2017

Apart from a sensationalistic headline both here as well as in mass media, the question here is how did the communication error occur? Was it because of language difficulties or channel clutter or others? We don't exactly know who need to take the responsibility yet. I'm sure HK's authority will have an enquiry and will wait to see what they find.

kevinsac June 8, 2017

Although the designated safe clearing was 4,200 feet .... it would have been tinsy tiny close....but if the plane already was at 3,400 before making the turn, it would easily have overflown the 3,066 peak.

DJ_Steve June 8, 2017

Hmm I think an Airbus A320 is smarter enough to know when it is too close to any mountains, Hence the usual Terrain ahead pull up warning, now this really is a non-news story!!

OPNLguy June 8, 2017

Legal terrain clearance is 1,000 feet... No investigation? What's the problem? "They got away with it" without killing everybody... Not a great safety culture, in apparently not wanting the know why the mistake got made..