Chinese aircraft maker Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) announced that its new AG600 large amphibious aircraft succeeded in its maiden flight over sea in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province.
The AG600 “Kunlong” aircraft is the world's largest amphibious aircraft and is designed to operate in complex weather and environment conditions with long-range and long haul capabilities.
A spokesman for AVIC said that the aircraft took off from the sea off Qingdao and flew for approximately 30 minutes, completing its first water test flight. The successful ocean flight test is an additional step forward in the development of this aircraft following its maiden flight in 2017 and first takeoff from a water reservoir in 2018.
The successful first ocean flight now allows the AG600 to begin more extensive flight tests from the sea that will allow AVIC to gather more flight data and ultimately verify the performance of the AG600 as an operational amphibious aircraft.
|The AG600 "Kunlong" aircraft on the sea off Qingdao in Shandong Province / Photo courtesy of Xinhua|
Codenamed Kunlong, the AG600 is a key project of China’s goal to develop its own "large aircraft family.” The AG600 is part of a trio of aircraft that make up this “large aircraft family” together with the Y-20 large transporter and C919 single-aisle passenger airplane.
|China’s Y-20 large transport airplane|
|China C919 passenger aircraft|
According to AVIC, the AG600 is the first airplane that China's aviation industry has developed as a special-mission large civil aircraft model that is designed to meet the demand for an aircraft that can fight forest fires, and perform both land and sea emergency rescue missions. The aircraft has been designed with the idea of have multiple variants and can take off and land on both ground and water, thus providing more flexibility.
The AG600 is designed to operate in complex weather and environment conditions. In rescue missions, it can conduct low altitude water surface search and anchor on the water to allow for water and maritime rescue missions. The aircraft is capable of rescuing up to 50 people on each mission.
In its role as a firefighting aircraft, the AG600 can efficiently shuttle between the fire site and water source, each time carrying as much as 12 tons of water and dropping water over an area of 4,000 square meters.
Besides its role in firefighting and water rescue, the AG600 aircraft can be modified or fitted with other facilities to meet special mission requirements but the aircrafts current development is focused on the firefighting-type of aircraft, with aircraft expected to be completed, certified and in operation by 2023.