After the testing was interrupted, the Avic AG600 is back in the air. A timely launch of the gigantic flying boat is important for China.
With a wingspan of 37 metres and a length of 39 metres, it has roughly the same dimensions as an Airbus A320 or Boeing 737; however, unlike short- and medium-range aircraft, the Avic AG600 can take off and land on water. It is the largest ambhibian aircraft of today.
The plane made its maiden flight in the winter of 2018, and a little less than a year later the first take-off from the water took place. However, the program was recently put on hold due to the Covid 19 pandemic. The prototype and the manufacturer are based in the city of Jingmen in Hubei Province, which is exactly in the region where the lung disease broke out earlier this year.
Major tests towards the end of the year
While the entire province was declared a restricted area, work on the seaplane was suspended for over a month. In the meantime, manufacturer Avic is again deploying the entire development team. Preparations for the resumption of test flights began as early as mid-March. The Chinese are trying to catch up again.
The prototype of the Avic AG600 has already performed test flights over water again, reports the state-run China Internet Information Center. A test campaign scheduled for the end of the year with first flights over the sea is still to take place. These are planned in the South China Sea. The marginal sea is planned as the future operational area of the seaplane.
Tailored to area of interest
The Avic AG600 is primarily designed for extinguishing forest fires and rescue operations at sea. With a range of 4500 kilometres, however, it can also reach a large part of the South China Sea. For years, the People’s Republic has been in dispute with neighboring countries and the USA over the area, which is considered an important trade route. China is trying to underpin its claims on the area with an increasing military presence.