Fans thrilled as 'big bird' flies in

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 September, 2007, 12:00am

The world's largest passenger plane touched down at Chek Lap Kok last night, thrilling aviation fans who gathered to see it arrive.

Ten-year-old Lee Tsz-him, who wants to become a pilot, waited with his mother and younger brother for more than an hour on the airport's observation deck to see the Airbus A380 superjumbo fly in.

'It looks so beautiful. It's so huge,' he said.

Photographer Howard Ching took shots as the plane landed.

'It was gorgeous, and landed smartly,' he said, adding that the sight brought back memories of photographing planes landing at the former Kai Tak airport.

The A380, which arrived on schedule at 6.30pm from Hanoi, will be one of about 10 aircraft on display at the Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress near the airport before leaving for Seoul on Wednesday. The expo opens today.

But bad weather could scupper today's demonstration flight over Victoria Harbour, which will be delayed until tomorrow if weather conditions are not favourable. A decision was being made this morning on whether to go ahead with the flight or postpone it.

The Observatory expects mainly showers and cloudy conditions with sunny intervals today. Tomorrow's forecast is also for cloudy conditions and occasional rain.

The Civil Aviation Department requires the cloud base during the flight to be 600 metres or higher, with visibility of at least 5km.

The Airbus was due to take off from Chek Lap Kok at 7.30am, fly over the Tsing Ma Bridge, head east across the harbour before rounding the south side of Hong Kong and Lamma islands, and returning to the airport.

It will not be allowed to fly under 300 metres when it flies across the harbour, about level with the 68th floor of the city's tallest building, Two IFC in Central.

The A380 will not carry any passengers during the flight, but the pilot will be accompanied by Civil Aviation Department staff - a qualified pilot and an air traffic controller - in the cockpit.

Two government helicopters will escort the plane.

On Saturday, the Airbus scraped an airport building in Bangkok as it was taxiing in preparation for a demonstration flight, damaging the left wing.


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