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Runway survives heaviest arrival

Touchdown: The Qantas 747 touches down at Illawarra Regional Airport on Sunday. Picture: KIRK GILMOURQantas jumbo lands at Illawarra Regional Airport: photos, videoAmazing reader pics of the Qantas landingAviation history: old girl’s final flightIt was the first time – and perhaps the only time – a 747-400 will land at the Illawarra Regional Airport.

Shellharbour City Council put a number of precautionary measures in place to reduce the potential for damage when the 192-tonne plane touched down on a runway that normally allows for aircraft up to 25 tonnes.

Qantas reduced the tyre pressure on the VH-OJA’s 16 tyres from the typical 208-212 pounds per square inch to 120 psi, following consultation with manufacturer Boeing.

The council’s group manager of city services, Rosemary Crowhurst, described it as a very successful landing.

“We’ve got tyre marks from the wheels and that is all we have got,” Ms Crowhurst said.

“We have a little bit of loose rock where it touched ground and a little bit of tyre embedded in the runaway but nothing to cause the runway to close.”

The aircraft pulled up well short of the end of the 1819-metre runway before being taxied back to the front of the HARS hangar for photographs.

“You can tell by the marks on the runway, he used its brakes really well,” Ms Crowhurst said.

The airport’s taxiway was fitted with heavy duty TuffTrak matting to ensure it could handle the weight of the aircraft as it was moved towards its resting place.

The aircraft moved over it “really well and the matting should help us spread the load while it is sitting still”, Ms Crowhurst said.

“It will sit back about another 100 metres from here for three weeks of maintenance before it is moved into its final spot.”

An excited HARS president Bob De La Hunty, who was presented with the keys to the aircraft by Captain Greg Matthews, said the landing went incredibly well “as you would expect from Qantas”.

People will be able to get close to the aircraft at HARS open days next weekend with an official ceremony planned for next Sunday. However it may be up to a month before the public can go inside the plane.

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