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Hong Kong’s first homebuilt and registered aircraft takes off

15 Nov 2015

Today marked a special day in the history of Hong Kong aviation with the successful inaugural flight of the first-ever homebuilt aircraft to fly under Hong Kong registration. Led by Cathay Pacific pilot Hank Cheng, with support from the B-KOO “Inspiration” team, the flight took off from Hong Kong International Airport early this morning.

In 1911, the “Spirit of Sha Tin” lifted off from Hong Kong’s first privately owned airport in Sha Tin, marking the beginning of Hong Kong’s aviation industry. On 15 November 1997, a replica of this pioneering aircraft flew out of Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). On the same day 18 years later, the homebuilt B-KOO “Inspiration” successfully took off from HKIA for the first time, marking not only the culmination of a childhood dream for Hank Cheng but also another new landmark in the rich and colourful history of aviation in Hong Kong.

Growing up in the city, Hank Cheng had always dreamed of building his own aircraft locally and flying it around the world. Today, his dream has become a reality, along the way involving hundreds of local students and many engineers and pilots from Cathay Pacific. The kit-built RV-8 single-engine aircraft was designed by Van’s Aircraft Inc, and is one of the most popular amateur-built planes with an excellent safety record.

For seven years, Hank Cheng worked closely with groups of secondary school students from St Paul’s Convent School (SPCS) to construct the empennage, wing and fuselage of the aircraft. The “Inspiration” team had to adhere to stringent construction and operational standards. 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.

Hank Cheng said: “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. 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 said: “Congratulations to Hank Cheng and the project team for their remarkable achievement in operating today’s inaugural flight for ‘Inspiration’. 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. 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 extends special thanks to 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, together with countless aviation enthusiasts who have given their support.

About Hank Cheng and the “Inspiration” Core Team

The B-KOO “Inspiration” Core Team consists of 11 team members who all share the same passion for aviation.

Hank 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 he 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, while 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.

About RV-8

The kit-built RV-8 single-engine aircraft was designed by Van’s Aircraft Inc, and is one of the most popular amateur-built planes. RV-8’s fuel-efficient airframe and fuel capacity of 42 gallons is able to provide for long-range flights at high cruise speeds. To date, more than 9,000 RV models have been certified around the world.

Specifications:

Wing Span:

24 ft.

Length:

21 ft.

Height:

5 ft. 7 in.

Empty Weight:

1067-1120 lbs.

Gross Weight:

1800 lbs.

 

Fun facts of the” Inspiration” project

Project days (from beginning to the inaugural flight)

2,631 days

Construction days

Over 600 days

Number of people involved

Over 500 people

Number of rivets on “Inspiration”

Over 13,500

Total pages of documentation

Over 1,800 pages

 

For more information about the “Inspiration” project, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/inspiration.bkoo

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