‘World’s first’ fully-electric commercial flight takes off

LONDON (GN): An all-electric powered seaplane has taken flight in Vancouver, Canada, in what the operators describe as a “world first” for the aviation industry.

The short test flight by Harbour Air and magniX involved a six-passenger aircraft fitted with an electric motor.

The companies said it was a first step to building the “world’s first all-electric commercial fleet”.

The push to electric could help slash carbon emissions in the high-polluting aviation sector.

“This historic flight signifies the start of the third era in aviation - the electric age,” Harbour Air and magniX said in a statement.

The flight involved a six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver with a 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system.

Launched at the Paris Air Show earlier this year, Australian company magniX said its propulsion system aims to provide a “clean and efficient way to power airplanes”.

China releases first 3D images based on Earth observation satellite

BEIJING (Xinhua): The China National Space Administration Tuesday released the first batch of three-dimensional images based on the data from the recently launched Gaofen-7 Earth observation satellite.

The Gaofen-7, an important part of China’s high-definition Earth observation project, is the country’s first civil-use optical transmission three-dimensional surveying and mapping satellite that reaches the sub-meter definition.

The 22 images unveiled show the Beijing Capital International Airport, the new Beijing Daxing International Airport, as well as some regions in China’s Anhui, Guangdong and Shandong provinces. Airplanes, vehicles, buildings and trees can be clearly seen in the images. The satellite, launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China’s Shanxi Province on Nov. 3, is in orbit at an altitude of 506 km and has a design life of eight years.

More than 14,000 images have been obtained by the satellite.

It will be mainly used for 1:10,000-scale 3D mapping. Only a few countries have acquired this level of satellite surveying and mapping, said Cao Haiyi, chief designer of the Gaofen-7 at the China Academy of Space Technology.

Its horizontal positioning accuracy of ground objects is within five meters, and the height measurement accuracy about 1.5 meters, said Cao.

“It’s like a precise ruler for measuring the land. Before the launch of Gaofen-7, we could only precisely locate super-highways, but now Gaofen-7 can help us accurately locate rural roads,” Cao said.

The main users of Gaofen-7 are from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the National Bureau of Statistics.

China has an urgent need for 1:10,000-scale surveying and mapping data, as the country undergoes rapid economic development, drastic changes in urban and rural structure, a sharp reduction in farmland and frequent natural disasters.

Gaofen-7 will help solve problems in monitoring geographical conditions, housing and urban-rural construction and national statistics, Cao said.

It might serve major national projects, planning and economic construction. For example, development of the Xiong’an New area, the selection of venue sites of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and key projects along the Belt and Road all need high-precision surveying and mapping data for decision-making.