ZHUHAI, July 23, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Amphibious aircraft AG600 rolls off a production line in Zhuhai, south China's Guangdong Province, July 23, 2016. The aircraft, which has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes and a maximum flight range of 4,500 km, will be used to fight forest fires and perform marine rescue missions. The AG600 is by far the world's largest amphibian aircraft, about the size of a Boeing 737. (Xinhua/Liang Xu)
GUANGZHOU, July 23 (Xinhua) -- China has completed production of a massive amphibious aircraft that it plans to use to fight forest fires and perform marine rescue missions.
The AG600 rolled off a production line in the southern city of Zhuhai on Saturday, in what aviation observers see as a milestone for the country.
The aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes, a maximum cruising speed of 500 km per hour, a maximum flight range of 4,500 km, and a maximum endurance of 12 hours, according to state aircraft maker the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
The 37-meter-long AG600 with a wingspan of 38.8 meters is by far the world's largest amphibian aircraft, about the size of a Boeing 737, according to AVIC deputy general manager Geng Ruguang.
In addition to taking off and landing like an ordinary plane, the AG600 can also take off and land from stretches of water that are at least 1,500 meters long, 200 meters wide and 2.5 meters deep.
It is destined to become an important part of China's resources for dealing with emergencies. According to the original design, it can collect 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds, and transport up to 370 tonnes of water on a single tank of fuel.
With excellent maneuverability and a relatively wide range of search scope, the AG600 is capable of rescuing up to 50 people far offshore.
Besides, it is very useful in developing and exploiting marine resources, being adaptable to conduct marine environmental monitoring, resource detection and transportation.
It is the result of nearly seven years of work by a group of 70 aircraft component manufacturers and research teams with over 150 institutes from 20 provinces and municipalities in China. The development and production of the plane received government approval in 2009.
"The AG600 is like a ship that can fly, with advanced gas-water dynamic engineering and underwater corrosion resistance technology," said Huang Lingcai, chief designer of the plane.
According to the AVIC, the AG600 will mainly target the domestic market. Seventeen intent orders have been placed so far.
The unveiling of the AG600 came shortly after Chinese heavy transport aircraft the Y-20 officially entered military service on July 7 and China's first large passenger aircraft, the C919, rolled off the final assembly line in November 2015.
Geng described the AG600 as "the latest breakthrough in China's aviation industry, which demonstrates an overall improvement of China's national strength and research capacity."