HK Aviation Club grounds all flights as investigation into helicopter pilot’s death gets under way

24-May-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The Hong Kong Aviation Club has suspended all its flying operations while an investigation into the death of one of its members in a helicopter crash in the New Territories takes place.

The club said it was saddened by the death of Andrew Wong Fai-hung, 49, in the accident on Sunday near the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, a conservation and education centre in Tai Po.

President Ronald Maurer said in a statement on Wednesday the group was working with authorities to determine the cause of the crash.

“In the meantime, until the cause of the accident is clearer, we have temporarily suspended all flying operations,” Maurer said.

The Post understands the helicopter involved, a Robinson R44, was owned by the club.

According to its website, the club has five helicopters and seven fixed-wing aircraft which are available for booking.

The non-profit club is the city’s only body which trains members to fly fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to obtain the essential Private Pilot Licence, which is recognised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The licence allows pilots to fly solo or with passengers.

To obtain the licence, a trainee has to have flown a minimum 40 hours, at least 10 of which must be solo.

Sunday’s accident happened at about 5.30pm. The helicopter crashed into a hillside behind the farm’s general administration building, in Pat Heung in Yuen Long, around 45 minutes after taking off from Shek Kong Airfield.

The airfield houses units of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, as well as being open for civilian use at the weekend.

More than 100 police officers and aviation investigators returned to the scene on Monday as part of their investigation, to collect the wreckage and the remains of the dead pilot.

Witnesses earlier reported hearing explosions and seeing the four-seater aircraft breaking apart in mid-air moments before it crashed into the slope. A police source said officers had taken contradictory statements from several witnesses.

There were no passengers with Wong.

Wong was a lawyer with Pansy Leung Tang & Chua Solicitors, and the source said the married father of three had his pilot licence renewed on Sunday.

Maurer described Wong as a “passionate aviator” and a “loving husband and father”.

“Our thoughts are with the family, friends and loved ones affected by the accident,” he said.


Category: Hong Kong

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