ICAO’s Asia/Pacific Regional Office conducted an interview with Captain Victor Liu, the Director-General of Civil Aviation Department of Hong Kong, China and the Chairperson of RASG-APAC.
A: I joined the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (CAD) as an Assistant Operations Officer in 1992. Since then, I have been very fortunate to work with, and learn from, different professionals in the CAD as well as in the local, regional and international aviation communities.
It has been a long-standing arrangement that the CAD provides the necessary training to equip staff with the knowledge and skills required for the relevant duties. I have had the opportunity to undertake different aviation-related training throughout my career. I also had the privilege to undergo professional pilot training and undertake various secondment arrangements to different air operators. I was able to gain practical industry experiences in scheduled airlines, business charter as well as search and rescue operations.
Within the CAD, I have taken up various roles and responsibilities in different technical divisions from frontline safety officer, flight operations inspector to senior management. In mid-2016, I took up the role of the Deputy DGCA, and in April 2019, the DGCA.
Over the past 30 years, I have witnessed the remarkable growth and development of our aviation industry, particularly in the Asia Pacific (APAC) Regions. Together with the industry, we have overcome many challenges and greater achievements each time. While the COVID-19 pandemic might have put us in unprecedented territory, I am confident that with the concerted efforts of us all, we can ride out of the storm and scale new heights again.
Q: As the newly appointed RASG-APAC Chairperson, what do you think should be the immediate safety goals or priorities of the APAC Region?
A: First of all, I am honored to take up this role, and to work more closely with our regional aviation leaders and partners. Closer collaboration within the aviation community is a priority in managing COVID-19 related challenges and it helps to pave the way for the speedy recovery and return of air transport demand and operation.
At the recent meeting of the RASG-APAC that was held on 17-18 December 2020, emphasis was placed on the need for ensuring the safe and orderly recovery of air transport activities during and post COVID-19. Thanks to the good efforts of the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) who have worked tirelessly during the course of the pandemic on the development of a comprehensive package of CART recommendations and guidelines in addressing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We need to remain mindful of our Safety Goals under the ICAO Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) and the APAC Regional Aviation Safety Plan. The five Safety Goals for APAC comprise improvements in USOAP effective implementation, implementation of the State Safety Programme, no Significant Safety Concerns in APAC, certification of all international aerodromes, and establishment of independent accident investigation authorities. We should keep up the good efforts made in achieving our commitments and goals.
Q: Considering the current COVID-19 impact on aviation, what do you think are the biggest challenges the aviation industry will face in the next five years? How do you see the aviation industry changing in this time?
A: In the short term, one of the major challenges will be to restore air travel. Authorities and the aviation community must work closely to facilitate a smooth recovery of air transport operations when lockdowns and travel restrictions are gradually relaxed. To this end, apart from establishing effective public health corridors, implementing risk-based public health measures at the airport and onboard the aircraft, it is paramount that aviation safety must be robustly maintained.
We also need to consider the impact of COVID-19 on personnel competency as the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly hit hard on the aviation sector, causing many closures of businesses and redundancies of skilled aviation professionals.
Sustainable aviation development relies on continuous development and suitable application of new technologies. On the one hand, this counts on the commitment of our industry and authorities. At the same time, the aviation community needs to work together to restore the confidence of the younger generations to join us. Our industry needs young talent and a competent workforce to support its future growth and development.
Q: The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis aviation has never seen before. Any ideas on how innovation could help in this special time? Which innovations have you developed in your fight against the COVID-19?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed our way of living, pushing us to work with many new norms. During our fight against the virus, innovation and new technologies have played an important role in keeping essential aviation activities on-going.
At the CAD, virtual meetings are frequently held when face-to-face meetings have become less desirable or feasible. A number of regulatory and application processes have turned paperless and are being handled online to minimize contacts between personnel while ensuring our continued operations and facilitation to the aviation industry. Our colleagues are also using different e-Learning platforms to continuously equip themselves with the necessary knowledge.
I am pleased to see that ICAO and the international aviation community are also adapting to these new modes of virtual meetings and business operations. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our way of living, technology has effectively brought us closer together.