Flight Paths

Design of Flight Paths

1. The flight paths for the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) were developed through careful and comprehensive studies. In accordance with international standards and recommended practices, their development took into account various operational factors including but not limited to runway alignment, terrain environment and obstacle clearances, location of navigation aids, aircraft operating criteria, environmental consideration, airspace coordination with nearby airports, etc. Hong Kong is small in size and hilly in topography. It is not possible to allow flight paths to be completely clear of all residential developments without compromising aviation safety, which is stringently regulated by the international aviation safety requirement. Nevertheless, the Civil Aviation Department is conscious of the noise impact that aircraft operations may have on the local communities and have implemented a number of aircraft noise mitigating measures to reduce the noise disturbance caused by these aircraft. For details, please refer to Aircraft Noise page.

2. The HKIA has 2 parallel runways (commonly called the North Runway (Note) and the South Runway) running northeast to southwest. At present, the two runways are normally operated in a segregated mode, i.e. the South Runway dedicated for departures and the North Runway for arrivals (for operational reasons, cargo flights and the Government Flying Service's aircraft will also use the South Runway for landing). However, there are circumstances where the airport may be operated with a single runway, for example, in the event of runway blockage or during scheduled maintenance periods.

Note: The North Runway, before its full commissioning, has commenced operation familiarisation since 8 July 2022.

Arrivals

3. The direction of aircraft landing at the HKIA primarily depends on the prevailing wind directions because, for safety and operational reasons, aircraft generally land into the wind. When westerly winds prevail at the airport (which is common in the summer and autumn seasons), aircraft often need to approach the HKIA from the northeast, overflying areas such as Tseung Kwan O, Sai Kung, Ma On Shan, Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan. When easterly winds prevail at the airport (which is common in winter and spring seasons), aircraft often need to approach HKIA from the southwest over the water.

4. The map in Appendix A PDF (PDF: 998KB) shows the arrival flight paths to HKIA.

Departures

5. The direction of aircraft departing from the HKIA also primarily depends on the prevailing wind directions because, for safety and operational reasons, aircraft generally take off into the wind. When westerly winds prevail at the airport, aircraft often need to depart from the HKIA initially towards the southwest until it is about 7 nautical miles from the runway where it will make a left turn. Depending on its destination, an aircraft may turn towards a northerly direction, passing over the New Territories at a relatively high altitude.

6. When easterly winds prevail at the airport, aircraft will depart from the HKIA towards the northeast until it reaches the northeast corner of Lantau Island where, depending on flight destinations, it may turn south over West Lamma Channel, or proceed to the southeast which may overfly Tsing Yi, Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island. Aircraft for destinations in the north may overfly the New Territories but would be at a relatively high altitude.

7. The map in Appendix B PDF (PDF: 1011KB) shows the Standard Instrument Departure (SID) tracks followed by departing aircraft from the HKIA. The primary purpose of these SIDs is to enable the efficient transition of departing aircraft from the airport to the upper level airways. Pilots are required to follow these standard procedures unless being given alternative instructions by an air traffic controller (ATC). For the efficient management of limited airspace, ATC may give pilots a more direct route to their destination or a radar heading for separation with other traffic.

8. It should be noted that an aircraft in flight cannot follow a track precisely like a train running along a railway track. There are many factors that may affect the aircraft's flown track, such as the wind speed and direction relative to the aircraft's intended flight path, the performance characteristics of the aircraft, tolerances in navigational aids and different piloting skills and techniques, etc. In practice, the flown tracks may deviate to either side of the nominal center line shown in the map in Appendix B PDF (PDF: 1011KB). Past studies have shown that the majority of aircraft follow the assigned routes within 1.5 km either side of the nominal center line.