China’s first polar fixed-wing aircraft lands at research station in Antarctica

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BEIJING, Dec 2: Following the icebreaker “Xuelong” and the all-terrain vehicle of the same name, China has for the first time sent a fixed-wing aircraft to the South Pole. The “Xueying” will be tested in the next few days.

According to the State Marine Office, China’s first polar fixed-wing aircraft, the “Xueying 601”, arrived at the airport near China’s first research station in Antarctica.

The “Xueying 601” – or “Snow Eagle” in English- took off on Nov. 15 from Canada. Eight days later, it arrived at the British research station “Rothera”. On Nov. 26, the “Xueying” arrived at the South Pole. Carrying three crew members, the aircraft finally arrived at Chinese research station “Zhongshan” Monday, after a journey of seven hours and 46 minutes from the South Pole.

The scientists will test the flight characteristics of the fixed-wing aircraft under the climatic conditions of Antarctica. They will also test the performance of the aircraft’s equipment including the ice radar, the gravimeter and magnetometer.

The research station Zhongshan serves as the base for testing. The first mission of “Xueying” includes flights to another two Chinese research stations “Kunlun” and “Taishan” and for the Australian Station “Casey”. It will also complete the scientific study of the Princess Elisabeth Land near the “Taishan” station.

Fixed wing aircraft are designed for fast transport and emergency rescue. They are therefore eminently suitable for research purposes. So far, only the US, Germany and Great Britain own multi-functional fixed-wing aircraft in Antarctica.

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