China’s new domestically developed AVIC AG600 amphibious aircraft is preparing for its first sea-based test flight which is scheduled later this year.
The aircraft is currently undergoing status adjustment and design optimization in Jingmen, Hubei, as all members of its development team at the plane’s designer, the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), have returned to work after the epidemic in the province began to ease, China Central Television (CCTV) reported Monday.
AG600 conducted its first land-based flight on Dec. 24, 2017, from the Jinwan Civil Aviation Airport in Zhuhai, Guangdong. The aircraft performed its first water-based test flight on Oct. 20, 2018, from the Zhanghe Reservoir in Jingmen in central China’s Hubei province.
AVIC AG600 “Kunlong”, also known as TA-600, is a large amphibious flying boat that is being designed and built in China by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
AG600 is dubbed as the world’s largest amphibious aircraft currently being built and is comparable in size with a Boeing 737 jet airliner.
The China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA), which has started work on the prototype AG600, has announced that the aircraft will have a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 t (53,500 kg; 118,000 lb) and a maximum range of over 5,000 km (3,100 mi).
The aircraft will have a wingspan of 38.8 meters (127 ft) and will be powered by four turboprop engines. the first flight was initially forecast for 2015 but was postponed until the first half of 2017. The forward fuselage was completed in 2015. The prototype was rolled out on 23 July 2016 at the Zhuhai AVIC factory.
The amphibious aircraft can be used for maritime rescue, marine environment monitoring, military operation and fighting forest fires.
AVIC states that the AG600 will be suitable for aerial firefighting dropping 12 tonnes of water, and search and rescue operations for 50 passengers.
The aircraft could also have strategic value in the South China Sea, which has been subject to various territorial disputes. Various commentaries in China note that the aircraft was specifically designed to defend China’s interests in the South China Sea area.