A new-configuration prototype model of China’s AG600 large amphibious aircraft conducted a successful maiden flight on Tuesday. This new-configuration AG600 amphibious aircraft took off from the Zhuhai Jinwan Airport in south China’s Guangdong Province at 10:55 a.m., and then safely landed at the airport after a 20-minute flight, said , according to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). During the maiden flight, it also conducted multiple flight test missions, including constant speed climbing, reducing speed in level flight and a simulated go-around. AG600 aircraft remained in good condition throughout the flight, with the control system operating well and all systems working stably.
This new configuration AG600 aircraft is specially developed to serve firefighting missions, with a maximum take-off weight of 60 tonnes and maximum water-storage capacity of up to 12 tonnes. It fills China’s need for a large firefighting aircraft. The successful maiden flight of the full-state new-configuration model marked a new phase for the AG600 project and a major breakthrough in developing the firefighting functional model of the large amphibious aircraft, said the AVIC. It is installed with a pressure cabin, fly-by-wire flight control system, integrated avionics system, and systems for its future firefighting missions. the new firefighting-configuration AG600 aircraft boasts higher performance, larger water-dropping capacity and longer range.
The AVIC AG600 Kunlong (Kun Dragon) is a large amphibious aircraft designed by AVIC and assembled by CAIGA. Powered by four WJ-6 turboprops, it is one of the largest flying boats with a 53.5 t (118,000 lb) MTOW. After five years of development, assembly started in August 2014, it was rolled out on 23 July 2016 and it made its first flight from Zhuhai Airport on 24 December 2017; it should be certified in 2021, with deliveries starting in 2022. The AG600, together with the Y-20 large transporter and the C919 single-aisle passenger airplane, is part of China’s key project to independently develop a “large aircraft family.” Codenamed Kunlong, the AG600 is a key piece of aeronautical equipment in China’s emergency-rescue system (firefighting and marine rescue missions).
AVIC claims it is the largest amphibious aircraft. It is heavier than the 41 t (90,000 lb) MTOW Beriev Be-200 or the 47.7 t (105,000 lb) ShinMaywa US-2, but lighter than the prototype-only 86 t (190,000 lb) Beriev A-40. Previous seaplanes were heavier, as the 75 t (165,000 lb) Martin JRM Mars or the prototypes 100 t (220,000 lb) Blohm & Voss BV 238, 156 t (345,000 lb) Saunders-Roe Princess or 180 t (400,000 lb) Hughes H-4 Hercules. It could access remote atolls in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands, claimed by several bordering nations, as the South China Sea is subjected to territorial disputes. It can fly in four hours from the southern city of Sanya to James Shoal, the southernmost edge of China’s territorial claims.