China is preparing to test the latest prototype of independently developed amphibious aircraft, the AG600, that will be able to cover all of the South China Sea. The four engines of the AG600-1003 prototype were tested last week, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) said. After the AG600-1003, two more AG600 aircraft will be assembled this year.
The previous prototype of the aircraft, known as the Kunlong, has conducted its maiden flights over land in 2017 and its first test flight from the ocean in 2020.
Developed by AVIC, the multi-purpose amphibious plane is a key piece of aeronautical equipment in China’s emergency rescue system. The aircraft meets the needs of firefighting, marine rescue missions, and other critical emergency rescue operations. It could also be used to observe oceanic environments, explore resources, or simply transport people and cargo between islands.
The AG600 amphibious aircraft combines a plane with a boat underneath, enabling it to take off and land both on land and water. When landing on the ground, the aircraft can swing out the rear wheels lined up along the fuselage while the nose wheel emerges from the boat’s keel. The aircraft is designed to ferry up to 50 passengers, can cruise at speeds of 310 mph (500 m/h), and has an endurance of up to 12 hours. Besides, the boat-shaped aircraft collects as much as 12 tonnes of water in its tanks in just 20 seconds. This quantity of water could be used to fight fires over an area of 43,000 square feet.
The aircraft was assembled in December last year, and tests of systems including avionics, power control, and hydraulic operation have since been completed. The developer claims that the AG600 aircraft has completed more than 100 hours of scientific test flights, accumulating and acquiring a large amount of flight test data.
Once completed, the AG600 will be the biggest amphibious aircraft in the world, overtaking Japan’s US-2 and Russia’s BE-200, South China Morning Post (SCMP) said in its report.