Would you take off in this? Cathay pilot's pet project almost ready for first flight

After six years, HK$1.5m and help from 200 students, pilot is set to soar with two-seater

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 2:54am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 11:51am

Hong Kong's first owner-assembled plane is almost ready to fly - it just needs an engine and fuel.

After almost six years of work, Cathay Pacific pilot Hank Cheng Chor-hang and his team installed the last front wheel of the Van's RV-8 kit plane yesterday.

If everything goes well, the plane will become the first Hong Kong-assembled aircraft to take off from the city early next year.

Cheng said the team, which includes other pilots, aircraft engineers, and people familiar with civil aviation laws, was working on the electronic parts.

The wings, with a span of 7.38 metres, are ready but will not be fitted until other parts are finished.

Cheng, who spent HK$1.5 million on the two-seater aircraft, said the installation of electronic instruments and the engine was the most difficult part.

It was also hard to find fuel for the piston-engine aircraft as most planes operating from Hong Kong were jets.

Cheng said the confined space had made it more difficult to work on the parts.

When the aircraft - now sitting in the Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company's premises at Chek Lap Kok - obtains final approval from the Civil Aviation Department, Cheng will be at the controls for the first flight.

The four-minute trip will take it north of Lantau.

While the aircraft has yet to be given a name, its registration is B-Koo. "We want to it to 'be cool'," Cheng said.

Alfred Poon Chung, an aircraft engineer helping Cheng with the project, said the construction of a plane as small as the RV-8 was not a lot different from that of a bigger one.

"It's just that there is less technical support, and we seldom deal with piston engines as in this case," he said. After the plane has obtained all licences, Cheng hopes to take it on a world tour, crossing mainland China, Russia, America, Europe, the Middle East, India, Cambodia and Thailand.

Cheng hopes to raise money from the journey for a charity organisation.

Before being moved to Haeco, the aircraft was being assembled at St Paul's Convent School in Causeway Bay.

Cheng has worked with more than 200 students from five graduation years on the project.

He said that he hoped the assembly had given the students a different experience.