China to test new ‘smog-busting’ drones (VIDEO)

BEIJING, March 7 — China has previously used fixed-wing drones to disperse chemicals that for pollution control efforts, as well as to ‘seed’ rain clouds over drought stricken regions.

The state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, however, said yesterday that it has developed a new “parafoil drone” that uses a type of parachute.

The new drone is said to be 90 per cent cheaper to operate and is capable of carrying 700 kilos of chemicals.

The paragliding drone is lighter than a fixed-wing version and is able to carry three times more weight than regular drones, making it more efficient and cost-effective, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.

Smog levels in many parts of China have become so bad that pilots have to forced to conduct ‘blind landings,’ and the new drones will first be tested around major Chinese airports.

People walk on a bridge during a smoggy day in Jilin, Jilin province, October 21, 2013. — Reuters pic
People walk on a bridge during a smoggy day in Jilin, Jilin province, October 21, 2013. — Reuters pic

The exact composition of the chemicals China plans to use for smog-clearing efforts is unknown, but reports say the chemicals will ‘freeze’ pollution particles, causing them to fall to the earth.

The new parafoil drones have a five-kilometre flight radius and Chinese media reports tests around Chinese airports will begin in late March 2014.

The South China Morning Post reports that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang acknowledged his nation’s major pollution problems and said in his speech at the National People’s Congress in Beijing that the government would “declare war” on pollution.

China hopes to first focus on reducing the fine particles of pollutants thought to be most harmful to human health.

Smog levels in the capital Beijing have hit record levels in early 2014 and reports say residents have become increasingly vocal about the problem, taking to the Internet to complain that the government is not moving fast enough to tackle the issue. — Reuters

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