Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways has fired a senior pilot for carrying out an unauthorised low-level flypast in Seattle during the delivery flight of a Boeing 777-300ER last month.
The incident took place on 30 January at Everett Airport immediately after Cathay took delivery of the new 777-300ER. After takeoff for Hong Kong the captain – chief 777 pilot Ian Wilkinson - returned the aircraft to the airfield and made a low-level flypast with the landing gear up.
One industry source close to Cathay tells flightglobal.com that the aircraft was at just 28ft-30ft above the ground.
On board were around 50 or 60 people, according to another industry source, including Cathay chairman Christopher Pratt.
Cathay confirms that “the pilot in command of the flight concerned had been dismissed as he had not sought nor obtained the necessary company approval to undertake such a fly-by. A second pilot involved has also been subject to disciplinary proceedings. Both disciplinary actions are subject to an appeals process”.
The airline adds that “Cathay Pacific has a well established approval process for fly-bys and a number had been conducted in the past as display flights at air shows with proper approval in place.
“The approval process was not followed in this case, resulting in disciplinary actions. Following the incident, Cathay Pacific has issued a notice to all cockpit crew reminding them of the company’s policy for conducting fly-bys.”
Cathay says it is still conducting an internal investigation into the incident, “including the collection of flight data, and interviews with the crew involved”.
It also says it has “taken the initiative to inform the Civil Aviation Department of the case and a report will be submitted to the department once the investigation is complete”.
The first officer was not dismissed as he reportedly did not know permission had not been obtained for the manoeuvre but he has been removed from training duties for six months.
More images of the flyby