Maiden flight of China-built amphibious aircraft expected in first half of 2017

World Today

The world’s largest amphibious aircraft, the China-made AG600, has passed engine tests and is expected to make its maiden flight in the first half of this year, according to the report by China’ s Xinhua News Agency.

The aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tons, a maximum cruising speed of 500 km per hour (around 310 miles per hour), a maximum flight range of 4,500 km (2800 miles), and a maximum endurance of 12 hours, according to state aircraft maker, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

In addition to taking off and landing like an ordinary plane, the AG600 can also take off and land from stretches of water that are at least 1,500 meters (4920 feet) long, 200 meters (656 feet) wide and 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) deep.

“The AG600 is like a ship that can fly, with advanced gas-water dynamic engineering and underwater corrosion resistance technology,” said Huang Lingcai, chief designer of the plane.

AVIC has spent almost eight years developing the AG600, which is roughly the size of a Boeing 737 and is designed to carry out marine rescues and battle forest fires.

In November, AVIC displayed the plane at China’s biggest meeting of aircraft makers and buyers, after it rolled off a production line in the southern city of Zhuhai in July.

According to the AVIC, the AG600 will mainly target the domestic market. However, the aircraft has received 17 expressions of interest so far, Xinhua said late on Tuesday.

The unveiling of the AG600 came shortly after Chinese heavy transport aircraft the Y-20 officially entered military service on July 7 and China’s first large passenger aircraft, the C919, rolled off the final assembly line in November 2015.

Story by Xinhua with some information from Reuters.