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17 Jul 2023
Innovative Solutions

Left: Mobile engine test unit in the late 1940s.
Right: Modern jet engine test cell facility. (Photo courtesy: Bobby Lee)


The Pacific Air Maintenance & Supply Company – PAMAS – was established by Swire in 1947 to provide engineering services at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airfield. Taikoo Dockyard seconded engineers, with aeronautical know-how supplied by technicians from Australian National Airways (a minor stakeholder in Cathay Pacific Airways).

In those early days, equipment was makeshift and spares in short supply; Taikoo’s machine shop fabricated replacement parts and necessity was the mother of invention where all else was concerned. One of the first innovations was this mobile engine test-bed, consisting of a specially adapted truck with a rear gantry arm on which an aircraft engine could be mounted. Instruments in the lorry’s cab controlled and monitored the engine’s performance as technicians raced the throttle: it was a very far cry from the huge jet engine test cells of today. 

In 1950, PAMAS joined forces with Jardine Air Maintenance to form Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company – today better known as HAECO Group.