China Flies Its First Home-Made Large Amphibious Aircraft

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Beijing: China’s first home-grown large amphibious aircraft AG600 on Sunday completed its maiden flight in south China’s Guangdong Province.

At 9:39 a.m., the aircraft AG600, code named “Kunlong,” successfully soared into the sky from the Jinwan Civil Aviation Airport in the city of Zhuhai. The flight lasted about one hour.

“Its successful maiden flight makes China among the world’s few countries capable of developing a large amphibious aircraft,” said Huang Lingcai, chief designer of AG600.

The aircraft, powered by four domestically-built turboprop engines, has a 39.6-meter-long fuselage and a 38.8-meter wingspan, said its developer, the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

According to the AVIC source, the amphibious aircraft, with a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes and a top cruising speed of 500 kilometers per hour, can fly for 12 hours at a time.

State-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) has spent almost eight years developing the aircraft, which is roughly the size of a Boeing Co 737 and is designed to carry out marine rescues and battle forest fires.

However, state media has also noted its potential use in the South China Sea, where China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei all have overlapping claims.

The AG600’s chief designer, Huang Lingcai, was quoted in the official China Daily earlier this month as saying it can make round trips without refuelling from the southern island province of Hainan to James Shoal, claimed by China but which is located close to Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo.

Powered by four turboprop engines, the AG600 can carry 50 people during maritime search-and-rescue missions, and can scoop up 12 metric tons of water within 20 seconds for fire fighting trips, according to state media.

The aircraft has received 17 orders so far from Chinese government departments and Chinese companies. It has a maximum flight range of 4,500 km (2,800 miles) and a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes.

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