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Hong Kong’s first homebuilt airplane takes to the skies

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The first-ever homebuilt airplane in Hong Kong took to the skies in a historic moment for local aviation.

The homebuilt B-KOO ‘Inspiration’ is a kit-built RV-8 single-engine aircraft designed by Van’s Aircraft Inc. Its fuel-efficient airframe and fuel capacity of 42 gallons is able to provide for long-range flights at high cruise speeds.

It took its first flight on Monday at Hong Kong International Airport. The project was led by Cathay Pacific pilot Hank Cheng who has always dreamed of building his own aircraft locally and flying it around the world.

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The B-KOO ‘Inspiration’ Core Team consisted of 11 team members who all share the same passion for aviation.

Cheng studied Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) and joined Cathay Pacific in 2001 as a Second Officer upon graduating from the airline’s Cadet Pilot Programme. He is currently a Captain on Boeing 777 fleet.

Gary Tat has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and obtained his Private Pilot Licence (PPL) while studying at ERAU. He currently works in the aviation quality assurance area.

Also from the airline, Engineers Crystal Tse, Geoffrey Hung, Sally Wong and Wingwing Cheung and Associate Engineer Ken Cheng gave up a lot of their personal time for the project over the last four to five years.

Associate Engineer Donald Ip, Graduate Engineers Alex Lo, Kelvin Chan and Michelle Lee, and Technical Assistant Cyril Li have been actively involved for the past one to two years.

The operational certification, pre-flight testing and risk assessments were all fully documented by the team to demonstrate the airworthiness of ‘Inspiration’ and ensure its safe operations.

Cheng also worked with groups of students from St Paul’s Convent School to construct the empennage, wing and fuselage of the aircraft.

“The ‘Inspiration’ project has been a labour of love for a big group of people over the past seven years and I would like to thank everyone who helped to make my childhood dream become a reality,” Cheng said.

“Particular thanks go to Rev Sister Margaret Wong, Principal at SPCS, who helped us begin the construction of ‘Inspiration’ on the school premises, hoping to inspire and nurture the younger generation to develop an interest in aviation.”

Cathay Pacific Director Corporate Affairs James Tong congratulated the team.

“As Hong Kong’s home airline, Cathay Pacific has been delighted to give support to this worthwhile project in various ways, including offering our expertise and resources, and helping to solicit support from different organisations,” he said.

“The ‘Inspiration’ project very much aligns with our own goals of nurturing an interest in aviation among Hong Kong’s younger generation – the people who will be the lifeblood of this important industry in the years to come.”

In addition to St Paul’s Convent School and Cathay Pacific, the ‘Inspiration’ project team thanked Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company Limited (HAECO), the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department, Airport Authority Hong Kong, Aviation Security Company Ltd, Hong Kong Aviation Club, the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, Airport Fire Contingent and UMADX.

Picture: Hank Cheng in his homemade plane. Supplied: Cathay Pacific

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