World's Biggest Amphibious Plane AG600 set for Maiden Flight
The China-made AG600, said to be the world's biggest amphibious aircraft, is slated to make its maiden flight in the first half of this year, state-backed Xinhua News agency reported on Wednesday.
The seaplane's four WJ-6 turbopops engines successfully passed a series of tests conducted between Feb. 11 and 14, after rolling off a production line in Zhuahi City last July. The AG600, made by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft, a subsidiary of state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), is 37 meters long and has a 38.8-meter wingspan, nearly the size of Boeing 737.
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China's AG600 has been designed to fight forest fires and carry out marine rescue missions. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons, a flight range of 4,500 kilometers, can collect 12 tons of water in merely 20 seconds, and could rescue up to 50 people far offshore.
Chief designer Huang Lingcai has earlier compared the AG600 to a flying ship "with advanced gas-water dynamic engineering and underwater corrosion resistance technology." He also added dubbed the latest aircraft as China's breakthrough in the aviation industry, showing overall progress in national strength and research capacity.
The AVIC AG600 is the Chinese counterpart of the Russia's Beriev Be-200, which is also known for its firefighting capabilities and maritime rescue and patrol operations. Xinhua cited the manufacturers claiming that the AG600 has received 17 interests so far but did not mention of any specific details. The aircraft has been showcased during China's biggest meeting of aircraft makers and buyers last November.