Homegrown aircraft safeguarding mountains


Thriving sector: A China-made aircraft on display at a facility in Shanghai. The country’s aviation industry has shown innovation and dedication to come up with multiple models with unique capabilities. — AFP

BEIJING: In a remarkable display of innovation and dedication, China’s domestically-developed aircraft are taking to the skies to protect the country’s lush green mountains.

Multiple models of newly-developed large unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and fixed-wing aircraft are showing their unique capabilities in ecological conservation, such as putting out forest fires and alleviating spring drought, according to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic), the country’s leading aircraft manufacturer.

The mountainous region of Yajiang county in South-West China’s Sichuan province faced a challenging spring when a devastating forest fire erupted in mid-March.

However, relief came swiftly as multiple specialised aircraft were deployed to support firefighting and disaster relief operations.

During the mission, three models of the Wing Loong large civil UAV family and the MA-60 weather-modification aircraft played a crucial role in tasks ranging from aerial disaster monitoring to telecommunications restoration and artificial rainfall enhancement, the Avic said.

The forest fire in Yajiang county presented unique difficulties due to its mountainous terrain with steep slopes and high elevations averaging 2,600 m. It was extremely hard for rescuers to monitor the fire and reach the affected areas, especially at night and amidst dense smoke.

Sent by emergency management and meteorological authorities, the three Wing Loong UAVs coordinated their efforts by integrating fire monitoring, meteorological observation and rainfall enhancement in an innovative way.

Each specialised aircraft brought its own unique strengths to the missions. One provided real-time images of the fire sites and set up a telecommunications network; another relayed crucial meteorological data such as wind direction, temperature and relative humidity, while the third conducted rainfall enhancement operations to support firefighting efforts and reach inaccessible areas.

This is the first time for China to carry out emergency rescue missions, combatting forest fires, through collaborative efforts of multiple large UAVs.

The move verified the respective advantages of these new aircraft and provided a new comprehensive solution for disaster prevention and mitigation, the Avic said.

Multiple models of the Wing Loong UAV family have been used and integrated into emergency governance, meteorology and other key fields, according to the developer, Avic (Chengdu) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System Co, Ltd (Avic UAS), an Avic subsidiary based in south-west China’s Chengdu.

In addition to its involvement in forest firefighting efforts in Sichuan, the MA-60 weather-modification aircraft was also engaged in various other missions this spring.

From mid-March until now, the specialised medium-sized fixed-wing aeroplane has conducted multiple rounds of artificial rainfall enhancement in north-west China’s Shaanxi province to address local meteorological challenges.

This special-purpose aircraft, featuring a heavy payload, long endurance and multi-functions in artificial weather modification operations, can effectively ease spring drought and support ploughing. — Xinhua

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