THE latest technology took to the skies yesterday to begin Hong Kong's first study of pollution from the air. A specially built plane will be used as part of a $2.4 million air-quality project to track the major pollutants in the Hong Kong region from the air. 'We'll do a picture eventually of all the pollutants on a three-dimensional map,' said a spokesman for the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Dr Greg Kok. The plane was originally hired from the NCAR for work on the windshear warning system at the new Chek Lap Kok airport. The air-quality project was initiated by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The Super KingAir plane has a twin-engine and turbo-propeller. It is equipped to collect and analyse air samples. Sensitive instruments on the nose and wings of the plane monitor atmospheric variables such as air pressure, temperature and the point at which water condenses out of air, known as the 'dew point'. A laser spectrometer on the wing can measure the concentration and size of tiny dust particles in the air. It can measure from 0.4 of a micron to 20 microns. A micron is the equivalent to one millionth of a metre. Inlets draw air into the plane, where a series of analysers test the air for nitrogen oxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and aerosol. The Senior Environmental Officer for the EPD, Dr Christopher Fung, said he expected that air pollution levels would be high. 'We really don't know, but from preliminary results we have seen some pretty dirty air,' he said. Of particular concern is the ozone layer. 'One thing we haven't paid a lot of attention to before is the ozone,' he said. The project will expand the network of monitoring stations the EPD controls in the urban centre on the ground. 'This plane will literally allow us to expand our horizons,' Dr Fung said. The project will collect data during a series of 20 flights, but results of the study will not be known until March 1995. Similar studies have been conducted in Mexico and Switzerland.