China to develop aviation support system in Antarctica

Updated: 2011-11-03 17:34

By Hou Lei (

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China to develop aviation support system in Antarctica

A Basler BT-67 aircraft [File Photo]

Chinese expedition teams in Antarctica will soon have better logistical support as the country plans to build an aviation support and emergency response system for its scientific research activities in this area, Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.

"The first step in building such a system is to buy an aircraft that has a range of 3,000 kilometers and can fly in Antarctica," Li Yuansheng, head of China's exploration team told Xinhua before they left Tianjin for a 160-day trip to the South Pole region.

An earlier report in China Aviation News confirmed that the Basler BT-67 is China's choice. This type of plane is retrofitted from Douglas DC-3 airframe and has been used by many countries in Antarctic expeditions such as the United States and South Africa.

Onboard the Xuelong (Snow Dragon) icebreaker that carries the Chinese expedition team is a Russian-made Ka-32 helicopter that can lift equipment. The ship can also carry a home-made Z-9 copter to take aerial photos and conduct surveillance.

Li said an aviation support system can transport personnel and facilities faster so as to save more time. It is also an indication of the country's ability to better carry out polar scientific research, Xinhua reported.