Government Flying Service (Hong Kong)

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Government Flying Service
HKG GFS.jpg
Agency overview
Formed 1993
Preceding Agency Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force (RHKAAF)
Jurisdiction Hong Kong
Headquarters Hong Kong International Airport
Employees 225
Agency executive MCP Chan, Controller
Website Government Flying Service official website

The Government Flying Service (GFS) is a disciplined unit of the Government of Hong Kong. It was established on 1 April 1993, when Hong Kong was under British rule. It then took over all the non-military operations of the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force (RHKAAF), which was an auxiliary unit of the United Kingdom Royal Air Force. After Hong Kong was handed over to the People's Republic of China in 1997, the GFS remains as a government unit of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and is responsible for search and rescue (SAR), air ambulance, firefighting and police operations.

The service operates from the southwestern end of Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok. Before the opening of the Chek Lap Kok airport in 1998, it operated from the old Kai Tak Airport (i.e. the former Hong Kong International Airport). GFS patrols a 400-nautical-mile (740 km) radius of Hong Kong's Maritime Search and Rescue Region, as well as the Hong Kong Flight Information Region (FIR), which covers most of the South China Sea basin.

In 2007, the former dispersal in the old Kai Tak Airport was re-opened as a sub-base, providing refuelling and other supporting services for GFS's helicopters. The helipad is located near the foot of Cheung Yip Street.

Government Flying Service (Hong Kong)
Traditional Chinese 政府飛行服務隊
Simplified Chinese 政府飞行服务队

Operations[edit]

A GFS Super Puma landing on the deck of the USS Mobile Bay, April 2006

GFS is broken down to operational sections:

  • Operations Section – day-to-day core functions (i.e. Search and Rescue)
  • Training and Standards Section – professional standards and development
  • Engineering Section – maintenance of GFS equipment
  • Quality Section – compliance to operational standards
  • Administration Section – administration, human resources, finance, supplies, etc...

Helicopters can land on 5 highways in Hong Kong to attend to road related recovery operations. For long-range search and rescue operations, the GFS initially uses fixed wing aircraft which then guides helicopters to the location.[1]

  • Air ambulance service response time (type A+/A) – 20miutes (within island zone) / 30minutes (outside island zone)
  • Search and rescue callout time 0700-2159 -(within 50 nm/92.5 km of GFS HQ) – 1hr / 1hr 40m (with additional/specialised equipment)
  • Search and rescue callout time 2200-0659 -(within 50 nm/92.5 km of GFS HQ) – 2hr
  • For SARs outside 50 nm / 92.5 km – add 30mins per 50 nm
  • Fixed Winged Aircraft 0700-2159 – (within 50 nm/92.5 km of GFS)- 50m, (between 50 nm/92.5 km to 100 nm/185 km of GFS)- 1hr 5m, (beyond 100 nm/185 km of GFS)- add 15m per 50 nm.

Fleet[edit]

Hong Kong Government Flying Service Eurocopter AS-332L2 Super Puma MkII
Hong Kong Government Flying Service Eurocopter AS-332L2 putting out a hill fire with a belly mounted water tank

The fleet currently comprises:

Builder Model Type Number Dates Details
British Aerospace  United Kingdom Jetstream 41 search and rescue/maritime surveillance aircraft (converted regional jet) 2
* B-HRS
* B-HRT
1999?- Long range/offshore SAR missions, aerial survey and surveillance
Eurocopter  Germany /  France AS 332L2 Super Puma inshore/offshore search and rescue helicopter (medium lift utility helicopter); aerial fire fighting apparatus 3
* B-HRL
* B-HRM
* B-HRN
2002– replaced the Sikorsky S-70A Black Hawk
Eurocopter  Germany /  France EC 155 B1 aeromedical services, inshore search and rescue, VIP and government personnel transfer (medium utility transport helicopter 4
* B-HRU
* B-HRV
* B-HRW
* B-HRY)
2002– A fifth one, B-HRX, crashed at Pak Kung Au during a mission in 2003.
Moravan  Czech Republic ZLIN Z242L fixed wing trainer 1
* B-HRA
2009 succeeded the role of the Slingsby Aviation T-67M-200 Firefly
Bombardier Aerospace  Canada Bombardier Challenger 605 2
* ex-C-GNVQ
2012 Ordered in October 2011 (as Fractional Jets).[2] (likely to replace Jetstream 41)

Paint scheme for Jetstream and Super Puma is white and Safety orange, two grey (night black and sea grey) tones for the EC 155 and some of the Super Puma to support police operations (tactical troops transport).

Retired fleet[edit]

The fleet has previously included:

Builder Model Type Number Dates Details
Beechcraft  United States Super King Air maritime surveillance aircraft; VIP aircraft (converted turboprop airliner) 2 1993–1999 from RHKAAF; replaced by BAe Jetstream 41
Sikorsky Aircraft  United States S-70A Black Hawk medium lift utility helicopters 3 (B-HZJ, B-HZI, and B-HZK) 1993–2002 from RHKAAF; used for search and rescue and by the Hong Kong Police Force; replaced by Super Puma AS332 L2; S-70 sold back to the United States
Sikorsky Aircraft  United States S-76 Spirit medium utility helicopter 6 1993–2002 from RHKAAF; used by the Government of Hong Kong and VIP service; replaced by EC 155 B1
Slingsby Aviation  United Kingdom T-67M-200 Firefly fixed wing trainer 4 1993–1996 from RHKAAF; replaced by ZLIN Z242L

Prior to 2002, the fleet colours consisted of:

  • white and Safety orange
  • blue, white and red – mostly the S-76 and were the colours of the RHKAAF and similar to the scheme used by the Her Majesty's Coastguard
  • night black and sea grey – mostly the S-70A

Equipment and Gear[edit]

Standard equipment for GFS personnel is:

As the GFS is not a police or para-military unit, they are unarmed. Armed officers of the Hong Kong Police Force fly with the GFS on occasion.

Personnel[edit]

GFS employs 238 personnel:

  • 178 commissioned/disciplined personnel
  • 60 civilian personnel

Most of the pilots in the GFS were localised prior to the handover in 1997, as former RAF and other British military personnel departed Hong Kong.

The GFS is led by a controller, who reports to the Secretary for Security. The current controller is Captain Michael CP Chan.

Other senior officers of the GFS are:

  • Departmental Secretary
  • Chief Pilot (Operations)
  • Chief Pilot (Training and Standards)
  • Chief Aircraft Engineer
  • Flight Operations Manager
  • Manager (Quality Assurance)
  • Manager (Quality & Flight Safety)
  • Manager (Aircrewman Officer)

Rank[edit]

Prior to the creation of the GFS, the ranks within the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force were the same as the RAF. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the transition to local staff in the RHKAAF in preparation for the civil transfer to the GFS role. For details and insignia of the ranking, see http://www.gfs.gov.hk/eng/insignia.htm

Ranking of personnel of the GFS are civilian aviation roles and are as follows:

Pilot II and Cadet Pilot ranks were created in the 1990s for local pilots with less flying experience.

Controllers[edit]

List of past controllers of the GFS:

  • Captain Brian Cluer
  • Captain Brian Butt

Crest[edit]

The current crest of the force was adopted in 1997, prior to which the Hong Kong Coat of Arms was used on GFS aircraft:

  • Bauhinia
  • Crest with a Chinese dragon, propeller (borrowed from the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force crest) and wording GFS
  • Motto contain the wording "政府飛行服務隊" with a pair of wings provides a bilingual logo to the agency that was lacking in the previous agency

GFS in the media[edit]

  • The service's official theme song, Wishing You Well So Much (多想你好), was sung by Andy Lau.
  • The TVB drama "Always Ready" was filmed inside GFS HQ and starred Ekin Cheng.

Incidents[edit]

  • 26 August 2003 – A Eurocopter EC 155 B1 crashed on a hill in Tung Chung on Lantau Island killing two aircrew (Pilot Pang Fu-kwok and Airman Chan Man-tik).
  • 27 December 2010 – One of the GFS's Eurocopter Super Puma Mk II helicopters (B-HRN) ditched in Shing Mun Reservoir after the loss of its number 2 engine. It was in the process of collecting water from the reservoir to drop on a hill fire. None of the three crew members were injured. The Civil Aviation Department said on the following day it had retrieved the flight data recorder. Pending a final report, an interim bulletin issued in February 2012 reported that the number two engine was correctly shut down automatically by the engine control unit because the turbine had began to overspeed, because there appear to be no fault in the turbine or the fuel systems the overspeed is possibly the result of a disconnection of the engine from the main gearbox because of wear to the freewheel unit that connect the two.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]