China’s AVIC AG600 amphibious aircraft has completed its low and medium speed water-based taxi trials on the Jingmen River earlier this month.
During the trials, the aircraft conducted eight sorties with a total duration of 552 minutes’ taxiing on water verifying its water manoeuvrability, stability and watertight performance.
AG-600 completed 8 sorties, total 552 minutes’ taxiing on water at low speed & medium speed to validate aerodynamic controllability, stability & water tightness, which performed well. pic.twitter.com/cLmechbtup
— dafeng cao (@dafengcao) September 18, 2018
The aircraft conducted its land-based high speed taxi trails on Dec. 22 before performing the first flight on Dec. 24 last year. According to the manufacturer, AG600 is scheduled to make its first test flight over water later this year.
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 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 metres (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. Sources also note that the aircraft could also have strategic value in the South China Sea, which has been subject to various territorial disputes. Commentaries in China note that the aircraft was specifically designed to defend China’s interests in the South China Sea area.
The manufacturer has indicated that they expect export sales of the aircraft and that island countries, including New Zealand and Malaysia have expressed interest.