Nowhere off limits for China's 'Snow Eagle' plane

By Guo Kai | | Updated: 2017-01-09 10:43

Nowhere off limits for China's 'Snow Eagle' plane

China's first polar fixed-wing aircraft, Xueying 601, arrives at Zhongshan station on Nov 11, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua] 

China's polar fixed-wing aircraft has become the first in the world to land successfully on the highest ice feature of Antarctica at more than 4,000 meters above sea level.

The Xueying 601, or "Snow Eagle" in English, successfully landed on Dome A at Kunlun station, 4093 meters above sea level at 5:35 pm Beijing time on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

The plane took off from China's Zhongshan station, about 250 meters above sea level, and flew 1,316 kilometers in 4 hours and 45 minutes to arrive at Kunlun station. About five hours later, the plane left Kunlun station.

To fulfill the milestone landing on Dome A, Chinese researchers began flattening a runway on the soft snow layer with vehicles and other tools about a week ago.

The fixed-wing aircraft is designed for fast transport and emergency rescue and is also suitable for research purposes.

The successful landing marked the possibility of China's polar fixed-wing plane's fast reach to any place in the whole Antarctic, said Sun Bo who leads China's 33rd Antarctic expedition team.

Chinese scientists have tested the flight characteristics under the climatic conditions of Antarctica and the performance of the aircraft's equipment including the ice radar, the gravimeter and magnetometer in 2015 and 2016. It successfully flew over the Kunlun station on Jan 9, 2016.

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