Drones to Help Pilots Land in Beijing?

**Smog at Beijing Capital International Airport ** (Photo credit Alec Wilson via Wikipedia CC)

In December, Reuters reported that Chinese authorities are requiring pilots flying into Beijing Capital International Airport in the northeastern outskirts of the city to improve their landing capabilities in low visibility conditions. The airport has been suffering chronic flight delays due to poor visibility caused by smog. Now there is word out of China that a new drone is in development that will release smog-reducing chemicals into the air to help pilots find the runway easier.

An article in the South China Morning Post reports that the drone will release chemicals that freeze the pollutants and makes them drop to the ground. Testing, the article says, will begin later this month at airports and ports in China to see if the application has a positive effect on the low-visibility problem.

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China developed the drone design, which incorporates a flexible wing canopy and can carry about 880 pounds of smog-dispersing chemicals. The company says the new drone is easier to control and cheaper to produce and maintain compared with fixed-wing drones. Other potential uses for the drone, the company says, are emergency rescue, aerial photography, disaster relief, agricultural seeding and surveillance.

China's premier Li Keqiang publicly announced this week that the government is declaring a war on pollution. However, the war is not only going to be fought with more chemicals, but is focused on reducing harmful pollutants.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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