HAECO Hong Kong Braces For Typhoon Season Amid Mass Aircraft Parking

Credit: AFP Photo/Anthony WALLACE

With taxiways packed full of parked aircraft due to COVID-19 related groundings, HAECO Hong Kong is prepping for how to adapt as typhoon season quickly approaches.

Hong Kong’s typhoon season typically begins in May and lasts through September, but under normal circumstances aircraft would either be protected inside hangars or flown to safer locations in the event of severe weather. According to Paul Longhurst, general manager of light maintenance at HAECO Hong Kong, the MRO is engaging in discussions right now to figure out the best contingency plans.

Since there are not existing tie-downs for aircraft on taxiways, Longhurst says the MRO is looking at ways to tether aircraft with items like concrete blocks. He adds that HAECO Hong Kong initially had some challenges obtaining enough coverings for engines and inlets but was able to work through the issue with its supply chain and in-house manufacturing capability.

“We are having to look at different options such as refueling planes to a certain level, which could be 60 tons for a [Boeing] 777, for example,” says Longhurst. “With that we would have to add Biobor [an aviation turbine and jet fuels microbiocide] to treat fuel to make sure we don’t get contamination.”

The unprecedented situation has also highlighted areas where new technologies could prove to be beneficial. “There’s a big push already as we talk about drones, for example. We’re coming into a season where we’re going to see lightning activity on the airfield, and if we were able to send a drone out and fly across the crown area of a 777 that would save us a lot of headaches,” says Longhurst.

Although HAECO Hong Kong does not currently have the ability to work with drones due to regulations, Longhurst believes it will be achieved eventually. “We’ll support that, and I’ve actually seen the Airbus offering on a drone—it’s a huge piece of kit. And once it gets into the maintenance environment, it’s going to be a huge advantage,” he says.

For now, the MRO is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst when it comes to how long the groundings will continue and how soon the typhoon season arrives. “We are going into a different season this year, and we have had typhoons as early as April before,” says Longhurst, “So we’re into the preparations right now and there’s a lot of discussions and preparation going on.”

For more information about how HAECO Hong Kong is dealing with parked aircraft and engines, check out the recording of Aviation Week’s Webinar, “MRO And COVID-19: Dealing With Parked Or Idle Aircraft And Engines.” 

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for AviationWeek.com, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.