World’s largest amphibious aircraft to make first flight from water this year

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Artist’s Impression of the AG600

The world’s largest amphibious aircraft, the Chinese-made AG600, is expected to start water trials before the end of the year, its developer, the Aviation Industry Corp of China, has said.

The AG600 is a four-engined turboprop designed for firefighting and search and rescue operations. The aircraft, which features cantilevered high-mounted wings and is equipped with four Chinese-developed WJ-6 engines, has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes, an overall length of 36.9m, and a wingspan of 38.8m.

The aircraft made its maiden flight on December 24, 2017. Further successful test flights were conducted on January 24 and 26 from Zhuhai airport in southern China, said Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC).

The aircraft will be transported to Jingmen in central China, where it will be tested before its first flight from water to ensure it is watertight and that its hydroplaning performance is as expected at low, medium and high speeds. The first flight from water is then expected to be conducted between July and December this year.

At a conference about the AG600’s development held in March at Jingmen, director of the project office, Leng Yixun, said that according to the development plan, the AG600 is expected to achieve the first water flight this year, despite “tight schedules” and “heavy tasks”.

The AG600 at a ceremony to mark completion of its assembly (Photo: AVIC)

The AG600 will be used to perform fire-fighting and marine rescue missions. According to AVIC, it is designed to draw 12 tons of water in 20 seconds, and to be able to cover an area of more than 4,000m² at once.

The AG600 has a maximum cruising speed of 500km/h (310mph), and a range of 12 hours, or 4,500km (3000 miles). It is also designed to carry out rescue operations at sea under complicated weather conditions, such as in waves up to 2m high, and to save more than 50 people during each emergency water rescue.

March 28, 2018

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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