Improved weather detection systems at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) are being examined in the wake of the China Airlines Boeing MD-11 crash at the airport in August.

The Hong Kong Observatory is studying 162 windshear reports from pilots landing at HKIA since it opened in mid-1998, most of them undetected by the airport's windshear and turbulence warning system (WTWS).

According to Sharon Lau, senior scientific officer at the meteorological authority, the observatory plans a laser-based light detection and ranging (LIDAR) system to improve windshear detection in clear conditions.

A working group was also due to meet in late October to determine whether weather information passed to pilots should be improved.

The accident happened during a landing in a tropical storm with a high crosswind. It is understood that no windshear warnings were given, but Lau admits: "We have had a number of cases of pilots reporting windshear which the system did not catch."

Lau says that the LIDAR, planned for 2001, will supplement the WTWS' terminal Doppler weather radar which loses effectiveness when there are insufficient reflecting particles or droplets in the air.

Meanwhile, the Observatory is considering improving the software which processes data from the WTWS' remote wind sensors.

Source: Flight International