• Members of China's expedition team in Antarctica set up a new seismic sensor in the region.

Members of China's expedition team in Antarctica set up a new seismic sensor in the region. (Photo : www.chinadaily.com.cn)

A fixed-wing aircraft will first be deployed for China’s latest scientific expedition to Antarctica, which is scheduled to set off next month, the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration said on Friday, Sept. 25.

Qin Weijia, deputy head of the administration, said that the aircraft, the Basler BT-67, named "Snow Eagle 601," will be used to bring supply and fly expedition teams to other logistics missions within a radius of 1,300 km around China's Zhongshan Station in Antarctica.

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Qin added that the aircraft will also serve as a transport for the team between Zhongshan and Kunlun stations and nearby stations of other countries.

The Xinhua News Agency reported that the U.S.-built aircraft can fly at 380 km per hour with a maximum payload of 5,900 kg. It will be equipped with research equipment that include an ice radar system, airborne gravimeter, airborne magnetometer and onboard laser radar system.

According to the report, the plane will be operated by Kenn Borek Air, a Canadian airline, because China has little aircraft operation experience in the region.

In its first flight, 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. Next, it will fly to the Zhongshan Station via a short stop at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station of the United States. Later, it will fly to the Kunlun Station, at about 4,000 meters above the sea level near Dome A.

The report said that a Chinese expedition team must first arrive at the Kunlun Station to build a runway before the plane arrives.

The team will return to Canada and will not spend the winter in Antarctica, the report said.