Key Points:

  • Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 787 Dreamliner was the only aircraft to land at Hong Kong airport during a super typhoon on Friday evening.

  • The daring landing took place on a wet runway with considerable wind shear and 32 knots of crosswind.

  • Hong Kong’s airport saw a total of 460 flight cancellations due to the extreme weather, with Cathay Pacific suspending all its flights.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight Becomes Global Spectacle During Hong Kong Super Typhoon

HONG KONG — On Friday evening, Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 787 Dreamliner pulled off a rare landing at Hong Kong airport as Super Typhoon Saola battered the city. The aircraft touched down at 5:06 p.m. local time, becoming the only plane to land during the extreme weather conditions. The event was closely followed by 6,400 people on FlightRadar24, making it the most tracked flight globally at that time.

Weather forecasts for the area indicated significant wind shear and moderate turbulence, coupled with 32 knots of crosswind, on the approach phase of the flight. Despite the challenging conditions, the plane safely landed nearly three hours after the last passenger aircraft had arrived in the city.

Super Typhoon Saola, a severe weather system with sustained winds of 210 km per hour near its center, posed significant challenges to the city’s aviation infrastructure. According to the local airport authority, a staggering 460 flights were cancelled on Friday. Cathay Pacific Airways, the flag carrier for Hong Kong, suspended all flights between 2 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday. Public transportation services were largely suspended in the city as well.

Hong Kong's airport, situated on reclaimed land off the coast of Lantau Island in the west of the city, is especially vulnerable to such extreme weather events. The typhoon was noted to be 110 km east-southeast of the financial hub at 5 p.m., and is anticipated to be the strongest storm to hit Hong Kong in at least half a decade.