The AVIC AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft is set to take its maiden flight by the end of this year after passing the official technical quality assessment, the company announced.
The 37-meter-long aircraft is being developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The aircraft is comparable in size with a Boeing 737 airliner.
AVIC stated that the turboprop will have a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 53.5 tonnes and a maximum flight range of 4500 kilometers. The company added thet AG600 is scheduled to make its first test flight over water in 2018.
“AG600 could meet the demands for medium-to-long-range patrols on a daily basis to safeguard the country’s maritime rights,” said Hunag Lincai, chief designer of the aircraft.
As the latest aircraft domestically developed by China, AG600 is tasked to grow China’s aviation capability and reduce dependence on foreign aircraft companies. Earlier this year, the AVIC announced that it has received orders for 17 AG600s – all from domestic customers.
AVIC AG600, 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).
The AG600 is reportedly the largest amphibious aircraft currently being built.
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.