WUHAN, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- China's independently-developed large amphibious aircraft AG600 completed its first water takeoff and landing in the city of Jingmen in the central province of Hubei on Saturday.
The AG600, codenamed Kunlong, is designed to be the world's largest amphibious aircraft. It completed its maiden flight in December 2017.
At around 8:51 a.m., the plane took off from the surface of a reservoir near Zhanghe Airport of Jingmen under the command of captain Zhao Sheng and his crew. It landed smoothly and steadily on water after a 14-minute flight.
The AG600, a large-scale special-purpose civil aircraft designed to assist with forest firefighting and water rescues, is the third member of China's "large aircraft family" following the large freighter Y-20 and large passenger aircraft C919.
Developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the aircraft is powered by four domestically designed turboprop engines and is roughly the size of a Boeing 737. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tonnes.
The aircraft is designed for both land and water takeoffs and landings. The lower part of the aircraft body is designed as a "V" structure to improve its anti-wave ability.
When used to help put out a forest fire, it is able to collect 12 tonnes of water at a time and make multiple trips to fetch water.
The aircraft can carry out sea rescue operations under complex meteorological conditions and can withstand two-meter-high waves. It is capable of carrying 50 people during a maritime search and rescue mission. It also provides support for China's marine monitoring and safety patrol.
According to Zhao Jingbo, deputy commander of the AG600 project, the flight on the water was particularly smooth, and the monitoring flight data was basically consistent with the theoretical calculations.
It showed that the AG600 has become "an aircraft that can swim" and "a ship that can fly", Zhao said.
The AG600 is a long-range aircraft and its rescue range can reach 1,500 km. Its flight speed is more than ten times that of a salvage ship and is more efficient than helicopters in emergency rescue situations.
The aircraft is an important aviation equipment for China's emergency rescue system, said Luo Ronghuai, general manager of AVIC.
The AG600's successful on-water flight shows that China has mastered the key technology of large-scale amphibious aircraft, including the overall design, aerodynamic structure, and the avionics system, said Chen Yuanxian, deputy general manager of AVIC.
"We will speed up the development of the aircraft to make sure it enters the market at an earlier time," Chen said.