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World’s largest amphibian aircraft makes ocean debut

written by Sandy Milne | July 27, 2020

Wet run: AVIC’s AG600 has completed its first ocean trial (Source: Wikicommons).

On Sunday, a prototype of the Chinese-made AVIC AG600 amphibian aircraft carried out testing in waters off the north-eastern city of Qingdao.

The state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) said the B-002A vessel departed Shanzihe Airport before pulling off a successful landing in the Yellow Sea, with a four-man crew on board.

“I’m very excited today,” said AG600 test pilot Zhao Sheng. “The aircraft had previously conducted its maiden flight on land and maiden flight on water. This time, it withstood the tests of complicated situations on the sea.”

Local weather reports show that the excursion was carried out during calm conditions, which he said made it “not very challenging”. He added, however, that the company has plans for subsequent tests with “higher waves and stronger winds”.

The milestone caps off a six-year production phase, with assembly first started in August 2014. AVIC has previously said it hopes to obtain commercial certification for the aircraft in 2021, with deliveries to follow the year after.

While Sunday marks the first sea-going trial for the AG600, AVIC has been testing the model since 2018 in the Zhanhe Reservoir. Trials were put on a one-month pause at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, sparking subsequent maintenance difficulties for the fleet.

The AG600 clocks in at a similar size to a Boeing 737, with a wingspan of 38.8 metres and a length of 36.90 metres. It has a capacity of 50 passengers, and can fly at a maximum speed of 270 knots.


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