China’s «Snow Eagle 601» first polar airplane conducts successful trial flight

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Snow Eagle 601

Dec. 7, 2015 shows China’s first polar airplane “Snow Eagle 601” having a trial flight at the Zhongshan Station, a Chinese scientific research base in Antarctica

The Basler BT-67, named “Snow Eagle 601”, will operate supply runs and other logistics missions for expedition teams within a radius of 1,300 km around China’s Zhongshan Station in Antarctica, said Qin Weijia, deputy head of the administration.

The aircraft will also serve as a transport between Zhongshan and Kunlun stations and nearby stations of other countries, Qin said.

The aircraft, manufactured in the United States, can fly at a speed of 380 km per hour with a maximum payload of 5,900 kg. It will be equipped with research equipment including an ice radar system, airborne gravimeter, airborne magnetometer and onboard laser radar system.

Since China lacks aircraft operation experience in Antarctica, the plane will be operated by Kenn Borek Air, an Canadian airline.

In its maiden journey, Snow Eagle 601 will take off from Canada, fly over South America and land at the Rothera Research Station of the United Kingdom as the first stop. Then it will fly to the Zhongshan Station via a short stop at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station of the United States. Afterwards it will make a flight to the Kunlun Station, at about 4,000 meters above the sea level near Dome A.

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