China's Huge Domestic-Built Amphibious Plane Completes Maiden Flight

By Gary Bailer, December 26, 2017

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On Sunday morning at 9.39am, China’s first large amphibious aircraft took to the skies above coastal Guangdong province, according to Xinhua. It's believed to be the largest amphibious plane in the world. 

The behemoth Chinese-made aircraft is called the AG600 and is comparable in size to a Boeing 737. The AG600 undertook its maiden flight from Zhuhai Jinwan Airport in the Pearl River Delta.

A crew of four piloted the plane for its inaugural flight, which lasted for roughly one hour.

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Manufactured by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the AG600 has a max takeoff weight of 53.5 metric tons, according to China Daily

The plane has a 38.8-meter wingspan and is powered by four domestically designed WJ-6 turboprop engines. It’s able to stay airborne for 12 hours, according to an Agence France Presse report.

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AVIC has stated that of the AG600’s 50,000-plus parts, 98 percent were provided by Chinese companies. 

Xinhua quotes the chief designer of the AG600, Huang Lingcai, as stating: "Its successful maiden flight makes China among the world's few countries capable of developing a large amphibious aircraft."

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Maritime search and rescue and airborne firefighting missions are the AG600’s intended uses, although China Daily reports the aircraft can be reequipped to carry out marine resource and environmental surveys.    

The plane, which can launch and land on both aquatic and terrestrial surfaces, is being touted as an important tool in China’s organization and execution of emergency rescue missions. 

[Images via China Daily USA, Xinhua News Agency, Twitter h/t Business Standard]

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