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World’s largest amphibious aircraft AG600 to make maiden flight

The developers of a massive Chinese amphibious aircraft designed for fighting forest fires and performing marine rescue missions are busy running final tests ahead of a maiden flight over land in mid-to-late May, they announced on March 29.

The AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft and the first large specialist civil aircraft developed entirely in China, has a body length of 36.9 meters and a wingspan of 38.8 meters, making it about the size of a Boeing 737 or Airbus 320.

With a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tons, it will be able to collect 12 tons of water in 20 seconds and rescue up to 50 people far offshore, according to the State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

Explaining why it has taken such a long time to prepare for the maiden flight since the AG600 rolled off a production line on July 23 last year, deputy chief designer Wang Zhenglong likened the plane to a newborn baby who would toddle for quite a long time before walking freely.

Currently, the AG600 has fulfilled major systems’ joint test and debugging, including control system, air-defense system and hydraulic system after realizing ground power supply. All four of its engines performed excellently in the test run, according to Wang.

As scheduled, the AG600 will undergo one last major test — the holistic aircraft’s ground resonance test, which will take about 20 days — before being ready to fly, according to Wang Shuzhe, chief engineer of the AG600 project.