Yesterday, lawmaker Jeremy Jansen Tam Man Ho posted a video on his Facebook of him meeting with the media to discuss air traffic controllers allegedly being forced by the Civil Aviation Department to fake the rating of a survey on the readiness of the new air traffic management system.
The HK$1.5 billion Autotrac 3 air traffic management system was officially launched yesterday, less than a month after media reports revealed that two Cathay Pacific Airways planes almost had a head-on collision at Hong Kong International Airport in late October.
During his meeting with the media, Tam said more than 10 air traffic controllers have complained to him. He stressed that these are not isolated incidents, and that he has received letters, emails, phone calls, and Whatsapp messages from CAD staff about the matter.
He said the CAD issued questionnaires to about 200 employees, in which they were required to write their names and rate their readiness to use the new system on a one to five scale, with three being a rating of approval.
Staff who had given ratings lower than three were taken to private meetings with managers. During the meeting, they were given a blank form to fill in again and told if they did not give the new system a rating of three or above, they would be denied any promotions or stripped of their acting positions.
Tam pointed out that before the near head-on collision accident in late October, a survey by the department found that 70% of the staff were confident about the new system. Two weeks later, the results of a similar questionnaire showed the new system had a 100% approval rating.
Tam, who used to be an airline pilot, said it would be a serious misconduct if the department doctored the results of the survey. He has written to the Transport and Housing Bureau, urging to launch an investigation into the matter, and he has not ruled out pursuing the case in the Legislative Council.
He added he has “a few names” of management members who are allegedly involved in doctoring the survey results, but did not find it the right time to disclose those names to the media in yesterday’s briefing.
Less than a day after the reports of air traffic controllers being pressured into approving the new system surfaced, Director-General of Civil Aviation Simon Li Tin Chui, said the claims were “unfounded” and expressed regret at the “inaccurate” accusations in a statement seen by the South China Morning Post.
“This is grossly unfair to professional air traffic controllers who dedicated their hard work over the months”, Li wrote.
He said the government-commissioned independent survey, conducted by Britain’s National Air Traffic Services, was in line with international practice.
“Management from the Civil Aviation Department have never exerted pressure on staff with regards to the self-assessment”, Li wrote.