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China conducts maiden flight of indigenous amphibious aircraft

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The AG600 amphibian aircraft of China. A file photo

BEIJING (PTI): China has successfully conducted the maiden flight of its first indigenous amphibious aircraft, believed to be the world's largest, in southern Guangdong Province last week.

The aircraft AG600, code named "Kunlong", lifted off from the Jinwan Civil Aviation Airport in Zhuhai in Guangdong on Dec. 24. The flight lasted about one hour.

"The maiden flight makes China among the few countries capable of developing a large amphibious aircraft," said Huang Lingcai, chief designer of AG600.

The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) has congratulated all those engaged in the mission.

The congratulatory message said the maiden flight was a major breakthrough in developing special-purpose aircraft following the first flight of the large C919 passenger jet in May.

The 39.6-meter aircraft is powered by four domestically-built turboprop engines, according to its developer, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

With a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes and a top cruising speed of 500 kilometers per hour, the AG600 has a range of 12 hours.

Designed to be the world's largest amphibious aircraft, the AG600 will be mainly used for maritime rescue, fighting forest fires and marine monitoring, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

It can carry 50 people during search-and-rescue missions, collect 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds for fire-fighting and transport up to 370 tonnes of water on a single tank of fuel.

Its name "Kunlong" stands for a high expectation in Chinese culture with the "Kun" meaning an enormous legendary fish and "Long" a dragon.

China in recent years made major strides in aviation technology.

The AG600 is the third member of China's "large aircraft family" following the large freighter Y-20 and large passenger aircraft C919, which made maiden flights in 2013 and 2017. The Y-20 entered into service with China's air force in July 2016.

On December 17, the second prototype of China's large passenger jet C919 completed its maiden flight in Shanghai.

It tested the performance of the C919 major systems and equipment, such as taking-off and landing, navigation and communication, speed acceleration and deceleration.

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