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China Builds World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft
World's largest amphibious aircraft passes ground tests in China (CCSS Level: Grade 9, Words: 331)
May 2, 2017 Science & Technology
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China's domestically developed AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft has successfully passed initial tests. The aircraft is roughly the size of a Boeing 737. The massive airplane, with a maximum take-off weight of 53.3 tons, conducted a series of ground tests.

Designed and built in China by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The AG600 aircraft is now in final preparations for its maiden flight, with other tests and check-ups under way before the plane makes its maiden flight and can be deployed to undertake ocean reconnaissance and to combat forest fires. It could also "be used to monitor and protect the ocean." The seaplane arrives amid China's increasing assertiveness to its territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea where it is building airfields and deploying military equipment, rattling nerves in the Asia-Pacific region and United States.

China is in the midst of a massive military modernisation programme, ranging from testing anti-satellite missiles to building stealth fighters as well as the country's first indigenous aircraft carrier, to add to an existing one bought from Ukraine.

AG600 aircraft received two option orders at the 10th Airshow China held in Zhuhai in November 2014, bringing the total option orders to 17. The aircraft is mainly intended for the domestic market in China, but island countries including New Zealand and Malaysia have also shown interest in the plane.

Here are the AG600 aircraft engine and performance details:

  • The aircraft is powered by four Chinese-made WJ-6 turboprop engines driving four six-bladed constant speed propellers. WJ-6 is a license-built copy of the Ivchenko AI-20 engine and generates a power output of 3,805kW (5,103hp).

  • The aircraft can fly at a cruising speed of 500km/h, maximum speed of 560km/h, and minimum speed of 220km/h. It has a maximum range of 4,500km and service ceiling of 6,000m, while the minimum level flight altitude is 50m.
  • The AG600 aircraft can perform take-off and landing in severe weather conditions with a wave height of 2m. The maximum take-off weight of the aircraft is 53.5t on runways and 49t on water.
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