Watch The World’s Largest Amphibious Aircraft Make A Huge Splash In The Sea As It Lands And Takes Off

China is ready to test its amphibious aircraft, the AG600, that will increase its maritime coverage to the entire South China Sea. 

The South China Sea has become a contentious issue after China has claimed sovereignty over the region. The region is teeming with untapped reserves of oil and natural gas. In addition, it has a third of the world’s maritime trade routes and fisheries that could impact the food security of millions in the region.

This test is highly important for China strategically. This is not a combat-ready aircraft, it can carry personnel and equipment to far-flung places in the region. It can also be used for exploring the area or running rescue or search operations. The size of a Boeing 737, the aircraft is designed to ferry up to 50 passengers and can cruise at speeds of 310 miles an hour (500 kph). It has an endurance of up to 12 hours.

China's self-developed large amphibious aircraft passes test run - CGTN

The AG600 design combines a boat underneath the massive aircraft to enable it to land on water. When arriving on land, the aircraft can swing out the rear wheels that are lined up along the fuselage while the nose wheel emerges from the keel of the boat.

The AG600 will also be used as a firefighting measure. The boat-shaped underside enables the aircraft to ski on water and collects as much as 12 tons of water in its tanks in just 20 seconds.

The previous iterations of the aircraft called Kunlong conducted their maiden flights on land and in the sea in 2017 and 2020 respectively but suffered delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the major research facilities for the aircraft maker, China Aviation Industry General Aircraft, is in the Hubei province was the epicenter of coronavirus infections. 

The other issue that is faced by the aircraft is its engines. The WJ-6 turboprop engines used on the plane are based on the Soviet-era Ai-20 series belonging to the 1950s. The aircraft was assembled in December and the four engines on the prototype were tested last week. The aircraft manufacturer is confident that the hundreds of hours of test flights conducted with the aircraft and the data it has gathered will help it overcome these issues. 

Once the test phase is through, the AG600 will be the biggest amphibious aircraft in the world, leaving in its trail the Japanese US-2 and Russian BE-200 amphibious aircraft.

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