The biggest storm to hit Hong Kong in five years is on the way. Dozens of flights are due to land in the middle of it. What would you do? PHIL HEARD spends 24 hours at Cathay Pacific’s airport operations centre as the drama unfolds五年來最強颱風即將襲港,有數十班航班預計於颱風抵

Discovery - - CURATED 精心之選 -


On the screens in the Integrated Operations Centre (IOC) at Cathay Pacific’s headquarters there is a green, red and purple smear. Typhoon Hato is on the way, heading straight across the South China Sea for Hong Kong.

The people monitoring the screens have about 24 hours to prepare.

0930 Mark Hoey, general manager operations, chairs the first meeting of the IOC. In attendance: airport teams, crew rostering, engineering, flight operations, social media and communications.

The verdict is unanimous. No Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon flights will take off from or land at Hong Kong between 7am and 5pm the following day.

It’s typhoon season, but Hong Kong rarely gets a big hit. Its citizens are used to false alarms. Hoey’s team has just made a very disruptive and expensive call.

‘It would be’, he says, ‘except we don’t make a decision based on any one weather forecast. We look at a variety of apps and programmes including the US Navy and the Hong Kong government among others. Most predictions have Hato going just to the south of Hong Kong and two just to the north. To me that means we have no choice but to suspend operations.’

There is no statutory reason for Cathay Pacific to stop flying in typhoons, and it does fly if it’s safe to. But when the T8 signal is raised, Hong Kong’s citizens are advised to go home and public transport starts winding down. At T10 people aren’t allowed to work outside at the airport and even the Airport Express trains stop. Hoey adds: ‘ We can operate in a T8 perfectly well if the wind is in the right direction and within our limits. But this looks like a major event.’

Already news of tomorrow’s cancelled flights has been being posted online, and the social media team is spreading news of a ticket waiver (meaning customers can rebook without charge).

It’s still and swelteringly hot outside. But there are already restrictions on aircraft movements. With only 20 take-offs and landings an hour allowed, the emphasis is on getting long haul flights home to Hong Kong before the worst of the storm hits. But what about the night departures from Europe? They need to be held until Hato has passed through at some point in the


在國泰航空的總部,綜合運作中心的屏幕上顯示了紅、紫綠種色此、 三顏 。 時颱風天鴿正越南國過 中 海,直撲香港。


上午時9 30分:航務總經理Mark Hoey主持綜合運作中心的第一次議與會 。 會的工作人員括機場各團隊、負責機組編更勤值 的職員,以及工程、航務、社交媒體及通訊等部門的同事。


現雖在是颱風季節,但香港甚少遭受強烈颱風正面吹襲,因此本地人亦已習經慣 常虛驚一場。Hoey的團隊卻剛剛作了一個重大、可能造成混亂而且代價高昂的決。定

他說:「可能確是如此,可是我, 們不會只根據一個天氣預報下決,定 而是參考多個用應 程式和電腦程式,括美國海軍、香少政府及其他氣象機構等。大多數氣象告測報 預 天鴿會吹襲香少南部,另有兩個預測則認為颱風會吹襲香少以北地區。對我來說,這表示我除們了暫停作運 之外,別無選擇。」

沒有何任 法例規定國泰航空不得在颱風期間行飛 ,要只 在安全的情況下,國泰航空亦會照常飛行。但是當八號烈風或暴風信號生效時,政府會勸諭市民回家,公共交通工具也會陸續停駛十。號颶風信號生效時,機場的工作人員不得在室外工作,連場機 快綫也會停駛。Hoey補充說:要「只 風向正確並且在我們可以控制的範圍之內,就算碰到八號風球,也能運作順良。暢 好 但這次似乎非同小可。」


外面還是常非 悶熱,但已實施飛行管制現。 在每小時只限20架飛機起飛和降落,當務之急是讓長途班機在風暴最惡劣的情發況 生之前抵達香少。但間夜在歐洲起飛的班機如何呢?這些飛機必 須等到下午天鴿離開一段時間後才能降落,目前大家都迫切想知道何時才是安全降落的時間。

Hoey說我:「 們不會取消這些航班。如果沒有機航 抵達香少,沒就 有開離香少的航機。」

若要在夜間起飛,就會受到當地的噪音管制影響。Hoey的航線運作隊團 正在打電話給世界各地機場的管理人員,希望可以延後起飛的時間,或者獲得在噪音管制實施後起飛的特別許可。

下午時4 30分:即使貴為行政總裁,行程也不能倖免被打亂。了 我們的行政總裁何在國杲法 ,正準備返少,他的班機延遲了九個小時。


上午時5 15分: Mark Hoey和他的團隊重返綜合運作中心。望他 著窗外說:「跟我們昨開天離 時差不多。」

天氣依然悶熱,但昨天的決定正確,風力比原本的預測還要,強 時速超過160公里的強風快將吹至。

颱風預計中午時分最接近香少,到了下午將會轉吹南東 風。壞消息是側風和亂流將會通過大嶼山山脈,途經機場從南中國海離開。

上午時5 30分: Hoey擔心這樣可能會令抵少班機再延誤多一小時。航線運作經理James Toye比較沉,著 他說:「們我很難在18個小時之前做出正確的決。定 我認為現在這樣已經很錯不 了。」

所有人的眼睛都盯在屏幕上,追蹤颱風的位置,最後架機盡四 飛 正 力趕在颱風來臨前抵少。

上午時5 40分:法蘭克福嚴格遵守噪音管制,因此令香少擔心了一整天:由於班機應該在下午3時30分抵達,比Hoey安排的重新開始運作間時 還要早一個半小時。不過機有夠燃上 足 的 料,如果風颱天鴿的尾掃巴 過時過於強烈,航機可以在空中盤旋改或 道前往其他機場。Hoey說:「目前風雨的走勢極難預料。」

上午時6 12分:來自國德 的航機安全降落,但並非來自法蘭克福,而是在杜塞爾多夫起飛的CX376班機,這是在天鴿襲少前抵達的最後國一班 泰航空班機。

Hoey說:「現在無事可做,所有運作都已經停我止, 們只能開擔始 心今晚出現的混亂局面還, 有法蘭克福的班機。」

上午時9 10分:機場外面風雨交加。2012年迄今的第一個十號颶風信號已經生效。燃料團隊為停泊的飛機添加數以

afternoon – and everyone would love to know what point that will be.

‘We’re not going to cancel these flights,’ says Hoey. ‘If they don’t come in, we won’t have any aircraft to depart.’

Night departures mean noise curfews. Hoey’s line operations teams are ringing airport managers around the world trying to get slots for later departures or for special dispensation to take off after the curfew.


1630 Even chief executives are not exempt from disruption. Rupert Hogg, on his way back from France, is on a flight that will be held at the airport for nine hours.


0515 Mark Hoey and his team are back in the IOC. ‘It’s much as we left it,’ he says, looking out of the window. Hot. Still. But yesterday’s decision was the right one. Winds even stronger than originally forecast are on the way: 160 kilometres per hour and more.

The storm is scheduled to hit at noon, and by afternoon the winds will change to the southeast. Bad news: crosswinds and turbulence will funnel down from the mountains of Lantau Island and escape into the South China Sea via the airfield.

0530 Hoey is fretting that it would have been possible to get another hour’s worth of flights in. Line ops manager James Toye is more phlegmatic. ‘ That’s a very hard call to make 18 hours out,’ he says. ‘I think this is pretty good.’

All eyes are on the screens tracking the position of the typhoon and the last four aircraft trying to get in ahead of it.

0540 Frankfurt is adamant about the noise curfew. That means a day of anxiety in Hong Kong: the flight is due to arrive at 1530 – an hour and a half earlier than the time Hoey set for recommencing operations. But it has plenty of fuel if it needs to hold and/or divert if Hato’s tail is swishing too ferociously. Hoey says: ‘It will be in the lap of the gods where the winds and rain bands will be at that point.’

0612 The flight from Germany lands safely: not Frankfurt, but the CX376 from Düsseldorf, the last Cathay Pacific flight allowed in before Hato’s inevitable arrival.

‘Now it’s boring,’ says Hoey. ‘All operations have ceased and we just need to start worrying about tonight’s organised chaos – and the Frankfurt flight.’

0910 It’s far from boring outside. The T10 signal is hoisted, for the first time since 2012. Fuelling teams are weighing down parked aircraft with tonnes of fuel. Staff who work outside at the airport have to go indoors – which is where the population of Hong Kong is, taping up their windows and readying their mops and buckets.

0930 The IOC meets. Conditions at the airport are terrible. Some 1,200 passengers, most of whom cannot connect to other flights, are in for a long and noisy day.

1000 Frankfurt still occupies everyone’s thoughts. Hoey says: ‘If we lose it to a diversion, it’s a long haul aircraft we need for tonight, so we have to work out how to get it back without compromising the plan too much. Then it’s a jigsaw.

‘All the unintended delays like having to load and cater planes in atrocious conditions are yet to come.’

1033 A KLM Boeing 747 lands at the airport, more or less in the eye of the storm. The winds are parallel to the runway. They’re too strong for an Ethiopian Airlines flight, which cancels its approach and diverts. Over the peaks of Lantau, the wind speed hits 172 kilometres per hour.

1430 T10 becomes T8. The IOC meets once more. Hoey reports that ‘we’re almost within operating limits’. The CX288 from Frankfurt is less than an hour away. The captain will pass on his eagerly awaited view of the approach to the IOC so that they can relay this to the other aircraft following it in.

1510 It’s now neck and neck between CX288 and an ANA flight as to which will test Hong Kong’s runways first.

1524 CX288 lands first. The flight deck reports crosswinds of about 20 knots (37 kilometres an hour) – testing, but within limits. The news is passed on and the heavily amended flying programme restarts.

1930 The final IOC meeting of the day. There is a palpable sense of relief. Hoey thanks staff and crew who have battled through horrendous conditions to get to where they needed to be.

He sums up: ‘ We’re in a good position to get back to normal tomorrow.’ At Hong Kong International Airport there have been hundreds of cancellations, but few diversions for Cathay flights. In the city, residents are emerging to scenes of fallen trees and flooded streets. Here in the IOC, the screens are clear once again.

噸計的燃料,以加重機身重量。在機場室外工作的人員都必須進室入 內,所有香港市民也要待在室內,在窗戶貼上膠帶、將拖把和水桶準備好。

上午9時30分:眾人在綜合運作中心舉行會議機。 場的情況十分糟糕。約有1,200名乘客滯留機場,大部分無法轉搭其他航班,這將是漫長而吵鬧的一天。

上午10時:大家仍然在擔心法蘭克福的班機。Hoey說如:「 果航機改飛處別 ,我們今晚要就 設法多找一架可供使用的長途航機,所以我們必須想辦法如何讓班機利順 飛抵香港,並將對原定計劃的影響減至最低。這是一個難題。」

「至於意料之外的延誤,例如在惡劣天氣的情況下裝載行李飲及食等問題,將續會陸 出現。」 上午10時33分:一荷架 蘭皇家航空的波音747飛機降落在香港國機際 場,差不多就在風眼的中心。強風沿著跑道而吹,由於風勢過於強勁,塞埃 俄比亞航空公司一架機航 取消降落,改飛處大別 。嶼山錄得的最高風速達到時速172公里。

下午2時30分:十號風球落下,改掛八號風球。綜合運作中心再次開召 會議。Hoey報告說:「我們幾乎達到運作的上限。」從法蘭克福起飛的CX288班機預計不到一小時內將會抵港。機長向綜合作運 中心報告眾人熱切期待的抵港時間,以便作工 人員將消息轉達給下一班抵港航班。

下午3時10分: CX288和一架全日空班機幾乎同時抵達,看且 哪一班可率先測試香港機跑場 道經歷颱風之後情的 況。 下午3時24分: CX288首先降落。駕駛艙報告跑道上的側風約20海里(時速37公里) ,這是考個 驗,但在尚 可承受上限之內。好消息很快傳,開 隨即啟動經過重新安排的飛行計。劃

下午7時30分:綜合運作中心舉行當天最一會後次議。現場瀰漫如釋重負的氣氛。Hoey感謝所有在惡劣天氣下工作、圓滿成務達 任 的團隊機和 組人員。

他總結說:「明天我們可以回復正常運作。颱襲」 風 港期間,雖然香港國際機場所有航空公司被取消的航班數以百計,但是國泰只有數班航機需要改道。市區的居民走出家門,見到上街 盡是被風吹倒的樹木和被水淹浸的街道。至於綜合運作中心的屏幕上則一片清,爽 再也見不到那些顏色了。

Eye of the storm Typhoon Hato coincided with a high tide, causing severe flooding around the city風災破壞颱風天鴿襲港時正值天文大潮,令城中多處遭受嚴重水浸

Bleak prospect During August’s Typhoon Hato, Hong Kong raised the T10 signal for the first time since 2012山雨欲來 颱風天鴿於8月來襲,香港懸掛起自2012年以來首個十號颶風信號

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