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December 25, 2017

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World’s largest amphibious aircraft takes off in Zhuhai

CHINA’S home-grown AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft in production, took to the skies yesterday for its maiden flight.

The plane, codenamed “Kunlong,” took off from the southern city of Zhuhai and landed after roughly an hour-long flight.

With a wingspan of 38.8 meters and powered by four domestically-built turboprop engines, the aircraft is capable of carrying 50 people and can stay airborne for 12 hours, according to its developer, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

“Its successful maiden flight makes China among the world’s few countries capable of developing a large amphibious aircraft,” chief designer surnamed Huang said.

The Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council congratulated all those engaged in the mission.

The congratulatory message said that the maiden flight was a major breakthrough in developing special-purpose aircraft following the maiden flight of the large C919 passenger jet in May.

The new aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tons and a top cruising speed of 500 kilometers per hour.

The amphibious aircraft will be used for firefighting and marine rescue, with at least 17 orders placed so far due to its multiple uses and advanced manufacturing technique.

It can carry 50 people during search-and-rescue missions, collect 12 tons of water in 20 seconds for fire fighting and transport up to 370 tons of water on a single tank of fuel.

Its name “Kunlong” stands for a high expectation in Chinese culture with the “Kun” meaning an enormous legendary fish and “Long” a dragon.

The AG600 is the third member of China’s large aircraft family.

China released a guideline on large aircraft projects in 2006 which has resulted in three large aircraft models.

In 2013, transport aircraft Y-20 made maiden flight and entered into service with China’s air force in July 2016.

In 2017, China’s first domestically-produced large passenger aircraft C919 completed first flight, allowing China entry in a civil aviation market currently monopolized by the Airbus and Boeing.

“Its successful maiden flight helps China enter the global aviation industry chain,” said Chen Mingsheng, one of the designers of the AG600.


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