The fire-extinguishing variant of China’s AG600 seaplane carried out its first flight in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, on Tuesday morning, according to the Aviation Industry Corp of China.
The State-owned aircraft maker said in a release that the plane was piloted by a four-member crew and took off from the Zhuhai Jinwan Airport at 10:55 am. It flew for 20 minutes before returning to the airport.
The company said the crew verified control systems and the plane’s overall capability during the test flight.
The AG600 is China’s second amphibious aircraft, after the SH-5, which was developed in the 1970s for military purposes and has been retired for many years.
With a length of 37 meters and a wingspan of 38.8 meters, the AG600 is roughly the size of a Boeing 737. These specifications make it the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, surpassing Japan’s ShinMaywa US-2 and Russia’s Beriev Be-200.
The fire-extinguishing model has a maximum takeoff weight of 60 metric tons. In a typical firefighting operation, it can collect 12 tons of water from a lake or sea in 20 seconds and use it to douse blazes over an area of about 4,000 square meters, according to designers.
The AG600 is one of three large-size aircraft to emerge from the nation’s efforts to become a top-tier player in the global aviation sector, joining the Y-20 strategic transport plane — delivery of which began in July 2016 to the Chinese Air Force — and the C919 narrow-body jetliner, which is expected to be delivered soon.
The first AG600 made its maiden flight in December 2017 in Zhuhai, taking off and landing at a local airport. Ten months later, it took off and landed in the water at Zhanghe Reservoir in Jingmen, Hubei province.
In July 2020, a prototype conducted the aircraft’s first sea-based test flight in waters off Qingdao, Shandong province.