A full-state new-configuration rescue and firefighting model of China’s AG600 large amphibious aircraft conducted a successful roll-out on , according to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). 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. The new firefighting-configuration AG600 aircraft boasts higher performance, larger water-dropping capacity and longer range, said the developer. It fills China’s need for a large firefighting aircraft. It is installed with a pressure cabin, fly-by-wire flight control system, integrated avionics system, and systems for its future firefighting missions.
The AVIC AG600 Kunlong (Kun Dragon) is a large amphibious aircraft designed by AVIC and assembled by CAIGA. Further variants may be developed for maritime surveillance, resource detection, passenger and cargo transport. Powered by four WJ-6 turboprops, it is one of the largest flying boats with a 53.5 t (118,000 lb) MTOW. The AG600 was previously known as the TA-600; it was designated the Dragon 600 before TA-600. After five years of development, CAIGA started to build the aircraft in August 2014, for a first flight targeted at the time for 2015. 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.
It is one of the three big plane projects approved by the State Council of China, with the Xi’an Y-20 military transport and the Comac C919 airliner. The AG600 amphibious aircraft has a single body flying boat fuselage, cantilevered high wings, four WJ-6 turboprops and tricycle retractable landing gear. It can operate from 1,500 by 200 m (4,920 by 660 ft) stretches of water 2.5 m (8.2 ft) deep, and should be able to conduct Sea State 3 operations with 2 m (6.6 ft) waves. It was developed for aerial firefighting, collecting 12 t (26,000 lb) of water in 20 seconds and transporting up to 370 t (820,000 lb) of water on a single tank of fuel (31 rotations), and search and rescue, retrieving up to 50 people at sea.
Assembled by CAIGA, it is 39.6 m (129.9 ft) long and has a 38.8 m (127.3 ft) wingspan, its MTOW is 53.5 t (118,000 lb) from paved runways or 48.8 t (108,000 lb) from choppy sea. 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. 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.