Low oxygen bottles prompt Cathay to upgrade security, inform police

September 21, 2019
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Photo: Cathay Pacific

Police have been informed, security upgraded and a number Cathay Pacific cabin crew suspended after portable oxygen bottles on six flights have been found to have low pressure.

The portable oxygen bottles, used by crew to move around the cabin if it depressurizes, were found on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights to or from Hong Kong and Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Canada.

In all, 17 bottles were involved but in-seat oxygen was not affected.

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Cathay confirmed Saturday that it had informed the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (HKCAD) and the police of the six instances where some portable oxygen bottles were been found to be in “a low-pressure state”.

It said the issues were identified during routine inspections carried out before and after every flight.

The latest incident was on Cathay Pacific flight CX502 which departed from Hong Kong to Osaka on September 16.

It involved a portable oxygen bottle that had its shut-off valve inadvertently opened during a routine check by cabin crew and was also reported to the aviation authority and police “as a precautionary measure”.

The airline said all affected oxygen bottles were immediately recharged and checked for serviceability by engineers prior to the next flight departures.

It emphasized that the safety of crew and passengers was not compromised but said it was taking the issue seriously and had launched an internal investigation.

Cabin crew of all concerned flights had been suspended from flight duties to facilitate the investigation process.

Those who have been fully cleared have since resumed their flight duties, while some continue to assist in the investigation, the airline said.

“Running a safe and secure operation is and always will be our greatest priority. We have robust pre-flight checks in place to identify any irregularities and to ensure all emergency equipment is serviceable so that the safety of our crew and passengers is upheld at all times,” said Cathay general manager group safety and operational risk management Richard Howell.

“Accordingly, we have further strengthened our security measures by adding inflight and post-landing checks for all of our flights.

“We have communicated with our cabin crew and employees the importance of maintaining impeccable safety standards at all times. There is no compromise in this area.”

Instances were identified after the arrival of the following flights and before the departure of the next flights:

September 16      CX502         Hong Kong-Osaka (1 bottle out of 20, shut-off valve inadvertently opened during a routine check by cabin crew.)

September 4        KA221         Da Nang-Hong Kong (1 bottle out of 7)

September 1        KA459         Kaohsiung-Hong Kong (1 bottle out of 16)

August 30             KA361         Bali-Hong Kong (1 bottle out of 16)

August 18             CX826         Hong Kong-Toronto (8 bottles out of 22)

August 17             CX826         Hong Kong-Toronto (5 bottles out of 22)