China’s unmanned plateau helicopter makes maiden flight

Beijing, September 28

China’s first homemade unmanned helicopter focussing on high-altitude areas has successfully completed a maiden flight in a plateau region, its manufacturer said on Monday.

The AR-500C prototype completed its first plateau flight at the Daocheng Yading Airport, which is the world’s highest civilian airport with an elevation of 4,411 metres, the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) said in a statement.

This flight broke the record for the elevation at which a domestically built unmanned helicopter took off and landed, it said.

During the 15-minute flight, the drone completed a series of tests, including climbing, hovering, rotating and other operational manoeuvres, before steadily landing, said AVIC.

This demonstrated the AR-500C’s general ability to fly in all types of terrain, the company said.

The maiden flight comes at a time when India and China are locked in a military standoff in eastern Ladakh since early May this year. 

An AVIC statement in May had said the AR-500C drone would be used in missions, including reconnaissance and communication relay, with optional functions including electronic disruption, target indication, fire strikes, cargo delivery, and nuclear radiation and chemical contamination reconnaissance.

The Sunday’s test flight showed that the AR-500C can carry a payload of 80 kg and fly for more than five hours at an altitude of 4,411 metres, official daily Global Times reported. PTI

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