Drone with camera with trees in background

China successfully tests world’s largest cargo drone

Image credit: Pixabay

A Chinese company has tested the world’s biggest unmanned transport aircraft, which is said to carry a payload of 1.5 tonnes (1,360kg).

Developed by the China Academy of Aerospace Electronics Technology and Chinese delivery company SF Express, the large commercial drone, known as Feihong-98 (FH-98), made a successful test flight at Baotou test site in North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region on Tuesday.

The FH-98, developed from China’s Yun-5B aircraft, has a maximum take-off weight of 5.25 tonnes (4,762kg), with the drone capable of reaching a flying altitude of 4,500m and a cruising speed of 180km/h, and has a maximum range of 1,200km.

According to Liu Meixuan, president of the China Academy of Aerospace Electronics Technology, the aircraft had been developed through upgrading the proven technologies in Chinas aviation sector, such as flight control, observation and control systems, as well as sensory and transmission technology.

“The aircraft is easy to take off, land and operate. It is equipped with advanced technologies and is reliable in flight. It has an affordable cost. It is an important carrier that features military and civilian integration and will later come to play a bigger role in the military and civilian sectors,” Meixuan added.

Y-5B aircrafts are considered one of the most suitable models to be used as cargo carriers due to their ability to take off with minimal running distance, large load capacity and a high performance-cost ratio.

FH-98’s predecessor, the Shifei Y5B, has a history of over 60 years since its first flight in 1957 and has been widely used by collaborators on the project, SF Express.

SF Express plans to deploy the Feihong-98 to “better accommodate not only major, but other minor aerial delivery courses” and to “strengthen its advantage of having an enhanced integration between its land and ground delivery coverage, and information web”.

According to the China Academy of Aerospace Electronics Technology, the unmanned transport drone finished its first test flight in August, and later received an operation approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Many believe Feihong-98 can “greatly contribute to the establishment of a standard for aerial deliveries, unmanned aircraft management, and airspace control systems in China”.

August saw Korean researchers presenting an algorithm to enable a single unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to herd whole flocks of birds away from protected airspaces.

In June, experts speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival said drones equipped with 3D printers could be used to automatically fill potholes as soon as they appear in the future.

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