|Formed||1 April 1993|
|Headquarters||Hong Kong International Airport|
|Annual budget||HKD 577.6 million (2016-17)|
|Parent department||Security Bureau|
|Government Flying Service|
- For the Slovak state carrier, see Slovak Government Flying Service.
The Government Flying Service (GFS) is a disciplined unit of the Government of Hong Kong.
The service has its head office in, and 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, which covers most of the South China Sea basin, as well as the Hong Kong Flight Information Region.
The Government Flying Service 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, and is responsible for search and rescue (SAR), air ambulance, firefighting, and police operations.
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.
In August 2020, a GFS Bombardier Challenger 605 maritime patrol aircraft is believed to have assisted Chinese authorities in intercepting 12 Hong Kongers who were attempting to flee to Taiwan due to increasingly onerous conditions in Hong Kong and enhanced exit controls. The Hong Kong government denied that they had cooperated with Chinese authorities. On December 21, 2020, the United States Bureau of Industry and Security will amend the Export Administration Regulations by adding a new ‘Military End User' (MEU) List, as well as the first tranche of 103 entities, which includes 58 Chinese and 45 Russian companies. Government Flying Service was added as one of 103 entities to the MEU List.
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 aircraft and 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.
- Air ambulance service response time (type A+/A) – 20 minutes (within island zone) / 30 minutes (outside island zone)
- Search and rescue callout time 0700-2159 -(within 50 nm/92.5 km of GFS HQ) – 1hr / 1hr 40m (with additional/specialized 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.
The fleet currently comprises:
|Bombardier Aerospace Canada||Challenger 605||search and rescue/maritime surveillance aircraft||2
|All painted in white and safety orange. Replaced the Jetstream 41|
|Diamond Aircraft Industries Austria||Twin Star DA42NG-VI||Twin engines fixed wing trainer||1
|Succeeded the role of the Moravan ZLIN Z242L|
|Airbus Helicopters France||H175||Search and Rescue, emergency medical services, observation, firefighting, and law enforcement helicopter.||7
|2018–||GFS became the launch customer for the public services version with an order for 7 in 2015. All to be delivered by the end of 2018. Replace AS332 L2 and EC155 in service.|
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
The fleet has previously included:
|Eurocopter France||EC 155 B1||aeromedical services, inshore search and rescue, VIP and government personnel transfer (medium utility transport helicopter)||4
|2002–||A fifth one, B-HRX, crashed at Pak Kung Au during a mission in 2003.
All painted in grey (night black and sea grey)
Replaced by Airbus Helicopters H175 from 2018.
|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
|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|
|Eurocopter France||AS 332L2 Super Puma||inshore/offshore search and rescue helicopter (medium lift utility helicopter); aerial fire fighting apparatus||3
|2002–2020||Only B-HRN is painted in white and safety orange, while B-HRM and B-HRL are pained in grey
Replaced by Airbus Helicopters H175.
|Slingsby Aviation United Kingdom||T-67M-200 Firefly||fixed wing trainer||4||1993–1996||From RHKAAF; replaced by ZLIN Z242L|
|Moravan Czech Republic||ZLIN Z242L||fixed wing trainer||1
|2009–2018||Replaced by Diamond Twin Star DA42NG-VI|
|British Aerospace United Kingdom||Jetstream 41||search and rescue/maritime surveillance aircraft (converted turboprop regional airliner)||2
|1999–2016||Replaced by Bombardier Challenger 605
B-HRS being preserved in Kai Tak Runway Park permanently
Equipment and Gear
Standard equipment for GFS personnel is:
- Flight suit or jumpsuit
- Special Operations Vests (SOVs) – consists of a small oxygen tank (3 minutes of oxygen), life jacket, small survival/first aid kit.
- Helicopter helmet
- SABRE 7 (BE549) Personal Locator Beacon
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.
GFS employs 327 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 West WH WU.
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)
- green Jumpsuit or separate Flight jacket and pants - pilot and aircrew
- blue jumpsuit or separate Flight jacket and pants - mechanics and engineers
- light blue shirt (short sleeve for summer and long sleeve for winter) with dark tie dress jacket and pants
- dark skirts for women
- sweaters for men
- dark windbreaker jacket for summer
- Peaked cap - male and female variations
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.
Ranking of personnel of the GFS are civilian aviation roles and are as follows:
|Rank group||General/flag officers||Field/senior officers||Junior officers||Officer cadet|
| Government Flying Service
Chief Aircraft Engineer
Senior Aircraft Engineer
Senior Aircrewman Officer
Aircrewman Officer I
Aircrewman Officer I
Aircrewman Officer II
Chief Aircraft Technician
Chief Aircraft Technician
Senior Aircraft Technician
Aircrewman Officer III
Senior Aircraft Technician
Aircrewman Officer III
Pilot II and Cadet Pilot ranks were created in the 1990s for local pilots with less flying experience.
List of past controllers of the GFS:
- Captain Brian Cluer - former RAF fighter pilot and General Manager of Operations, Cathay Pacific
- Captain Brian Butt Yiu-ming - formerly with Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force and Chief Inspector with Hong Kong Police specializing in the counterfeit detection
The current crest of the force was adopted in 1997, prior to which the Hong Kong Coat of Arms was used on GFS aircraft:
- 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
- The service's official theme song, Wishing You Well So Much (多想你好), was sung by Andy Lau in 2003.
- The TVB drama "Always Ready" was filmed inside GFS HQ in 2005 and starred Ekin Cheng.
- 26 August 2003 – A Eurocopter EC 155 B1 crashed on a hill at Pak Kung Au near 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 2 engine was correctly shut down automatically by the engine control unit because the turbine had begun to overspeed, because there appeared to be no fault in the turbine or the fuel systems the overspeed was possibly the result of a disconnection of the engine from the main gearbox because of wear to the freewheel unit that connected the two. The Helicopter was rebuilt by the engineering team after it was recovered from the reservoir.
- Hong Kong Police Force
- Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Air Force
- Government Budget Head 166
- "Contact". Government Flying Service. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
Government Flying Service 18 South Perimeter Road Hong Kong International Airport Lantau Hong Kong
- "Government Flying Service." Information Services Department. Government Flying Service. March 2016. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
- "US blacklists Hong Kong's Gov't Flying Service, citing human rights abuses and national security concerns". 22 December 2020.
- Griffiths, James; Cheung, Eric. "Hong Kong government accused of colluding with China to surveil and catch fugitives fleeing for Taiwan". www.cnn.com. CNN. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
- "Commerce Department Will Publish the First Military End User List Naming More Than 100 Chinese and Russian Companies".
- "ANALYSIS: H175 SAR delivery offers lift to programme". Flightglobal.com. 20 June 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
- "Hong Kong's Government Flying Service receive first H175s in public services configuration". Airbus. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
- "About GFS". Retrieved 27 May 2021.
- "Pilot Grade." Government Flying Service. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
- "Air Crewman Officer Grade." Government Flying Service. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
- "Aircraft Engineer Grade." Government Flying Service. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
- "Aircraft Technician Grade." Government Flying Service. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
- "Uniform." Government Flying Service. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
- "Government Flying Service - Insignia".
- "Government Flying Service - Air Crewman Officer Grade".
- "Government Flying Service - Aircraft Engineer Grade".
- "Government Flying Service - Aircraft Technician Grade".
- "Happy landings".
- "Accident bulletin 1/2012." Chief Inspector of Accidents. Accident Investigation Division. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
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