An unmanned Chinese aircraft has carried out the country’s first cross-sea flight of a cargo drone between two provinces.

The late April flight saw an FP-98 cargo aircraft carry 455kg (1,000lb) of plant seedlings from Haikou on the Island of Hainan to Zhuhai, in Guangdong province, according to the official China Daily newspaper.


Source: China Daily

The FP-90 prepares for take off in Haikou

The aircraft completed the mission in under 3h. The use of a cargo drone, as opposed to a commercial airline or land transport, resulted in all the seedlings surviving the trip.

However, the report does not state whether the aircraft carried personnel as observers.

It claims that the FP-98 can carry up to 1.5t of cargo, and has a range of 648nm (1,200km). For guidance, the aircraft uses China’s BeiDou-3 satellite navigation system – the country’s alternative to the USA’s global positioning system. 

An image suggests that the FP-98 is derived from the Shifei Y-5B biplane, itself based on the widely produced Antonov An-2, which first flew in 1947.

The Haikou-Zhuhai sortie comes nearly six years after China’s first flight of the FH-98 cargo aircraft, also based on the Y-5B.

The original FH-98 was modified by the China Academy of Aerospace Electronics Technology, an institute under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

China has shown considerable interest in unmanned freighters.

In February, the Civil Aviation Administration of China completed verification testing of the AutoFlight V2000CG CarryAll electric vertical take-off and landing uncrewed cargo aircraft. The type is in the process of attaining formal certification.

AVIC has also developed the TP500 cargo drone, which has reportedly entered production in Shandong.