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Fixed-wing aircraft to accompany Antarctic expedition

Discussion in 'Chinese Defence Forum' started by Lankan Ranger, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. Lankan Ranger

    Lankan Ranger ELITE MEMBER

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    Fixed-wing aircraft to accompany Antarctic expedition


    A fixed-wing aircraft will be added to the fleet for China's Antarctic expedition team next year after the "Snow Eagle" helicopter crashed into an iceberg in the South Pole last December, members of the team said on Saturday.

    The "Snow Eagle" cannot be recovered, but a new fixed-wing aircraft will be purchased soon, Zhao Yong, a researcher from the Polar Research Institute of China (PRIC), said while replying to netizens' questions in an online chat session hosted by Xinhuanet.com and Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site.

    Both crew members aboard the "Snow Eagle" survived the crash, although one of them was slightly injured.

    Li Yuansheng, head of China's Antarctic expedition team, said aircraft like the "Snow Eagle" "play an increasingly important role in Antarctic expeditions, especially supporting the departures of inland teams.

    Li said helicopters are necessary to expand China's scientific research abilities within the Antarctic inland.

    However, Li said China's Antarctic exploration has "greatly fallen behind that of developed countries."

    "China's Antarctic research started late and supporting conditions have been weak," he said.

    China launched its first Antarctic expedition in 1984 and has established three research stations on the continent.

    In response to questions on the environmental protection of Antarctica, Zhang Lin from the National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center said environmental conservation is at the top of the team's agenda.

    ANTARCTIC LIFE

    Netizens had many questions about what it's like to live in the polar region, inquiring about cooperation with foreign expedition teams, staying in touch with family and the wildlife of Antarctica.

    Han Desheng from the PRIC said the expedition team has "gotten along well" with foreign expedition teams and that the Chinese team is willing to offer help to foreign teams when needed.

    Zhao Yong of the PRIC said the team members make daily phone calls to their relatives and have Internet access as well, although the connection speed is poor.

    Some of the questions received rather surprising answers.

    "When we were playing football on the ice on the Christmas Day, a few curious penguins walked up and stepped onto our field," said Zhang Lin from the National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center.

    The Chinese icebreaker "Xuelong," or "Snow Dragon", left the port city of Tianjin last November for the country's 28th scientific expedition to Antarctica.

    The icebreaker is carrying a 220-member expedition team, including two scholars from Taiwan, who will carry out 31 scientific research tasks during their 160-day expedition.

    The icebreaker is expected to leave Antarctica on March 10 and return to Shanghai in early April, covering an estimated 31,000 nautical miles during the expedition.

    China plans to launch five Antarctic expeditions and three Arctic expeditions between 2011 and 2015.

    Fixed-wing aircraft to accompany Antarctic expedition - Xinhua | English.news.cn