China's first large amphibious aircraft AG600 makes maiden flight

The plane, codenamed "Kunlong" according to state news agency Xinhua, took off from the southern city of Zhuhai and landed after roughly an hour-long flight.

Cheering crowds watched as the AG600 took to the skies today (Sunday, December 24) for its maiden flight. Among other features, it is created to be the largest of its kind in the world, can carry 50 people on rescue missions and carry 370 tons of water in each tank.

AG600 is the third member of China's "large aircraft family" following the large freighter Y-20 and large passenger aircraft C919.

A congratulatory letter sent by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council was read out at a ceremony to mark the maiden flight, attended by Vice-Premier Ma Kai and Guangdong Party chief Li Xi, as well as hundreds of other officials and about 3,000 spectators. The first flight was in 1986 and the project was suspended.

It has firefighting and marine rescue duties but also military applications, which could be put to use in the disputed South China Sea region.

The AG600, the first large specialist civil aircraft developed entirely in China, is capable of multiple tasks, such as fighting forest fires and conducting rescue and relief operations at sea, according to the Guangzhou Daily.

Zhang Shuwei, deputy general manager of China Aviation Industry General Aircraft, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corp of China that assembled the seaplane, said the company has received orders for 17 AG600s from domestic users.

China's policy on the South China Sea is hotly contested by a number of neighbouring countries and. The flight lasted about an hour.


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