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China-built world's largest amphibious plane undergoes final tests

(Chinadaily.com.cn)    09:25, October 20, 2018

The world's largest amphibious aircraft, AG600, carried out its first takeoff and landing on waters in Hubei province's Jingmen on Saturday.

Developed and built by the State-owned aircraft giant Aviation Industry Corp of China, the seaplane took off from the Zhanghe Reservoir at 8:51 am and stayed airborne for about 15 minutes. It was piloted by four crew members.

AG600 made its maiden flight in late December in Zhuhai, a coastal city in Guangdong province, taking off and landing on an airport.

On Monday, the aircraft made a high-speed sailing test on Zhanghe Reservoir, fulfilling the final preparatory step before the first water-based takeoff, according to AVIC.

Development of the AG600 was approved by the central government in June 2009. Construction of the prototype began in March 2014 and was completed in July 2016.

The amphibious plane is one of three large-size aircraft to emerge from the nation's ambitious effort to become a top-tier player in the global aviation sector, joining the Y-20 strategic transport plane-delivery of which began in July 2016 to the Chinese Air Force-and the C919 narrow-body jetliner, which is being flight-tested.

The AG600 will mainly be tasked with performing aerial firefighting and maritime search and rescue. It can also be refitted to conduct marine environmental inspections, marine resource surveys, anti-smuggling operations as well as personnel and supply transportation, according to AVIC.

Powered by four domestically designed WJ-6 turboprop engines, the AG600 is roughly the size of a Boeing 737. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 metric tons. These specifications make it the world's largest amphibious aircraft, surpassing Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 and Russia's Beriev Be-200.

The aircraft is designed for both land and water takeoffs and landings and has an operational range of more than 4,000 kilometers. It is capable of carrying 50 people during a maritime search and rescue mission.

When assigned to fight forest fires, it can collect 12 tons of water from a lake or sea in 20 seconds and then use the water to douse blazes over an area of about 4,000 square meters, according to AVIC.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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