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China's large amphibian aircraft set for maiden flight next month

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The AG600 amphibious aircraft. A Chinese media photo

BEIJING (BNS): China's indigenously built massive amphibious aircraft AG600 is all set for its maiden voyages over land in May and on water in the second half of 2017.

According to local media reports, the large sea plane built by the state-run Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) will undergo its maiden flight test in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai. 

The aircraft has passed the test for autonomous supply of electricity via its own engine, marking that it is now ready for its maiden flight.

"Since the AG600 aircraft was rolled off the assembly line, we've connected it with an electric supply from the ground. We also finished a test of key systems such as the control system, air defence system and hydraulic systems.

"Furthermore, we've put the aircraft onto the runway and let its four engines run simultaneously. I should say a steady step has been made toward its ground taxi at low, middle and high speed," Wang Zhenglong, a deputy chief designer of the AG600, was quoted as saying in a news report.

To further prove the aircraft's credibility before taking off over land in mid-May, a full resonance test, which is the last major test designed for the AG600, will also be conducted.

Wang said that the maiden flight crew will have three members who will be selected from a group of eight who are currently receiving training.

The 37-meter-long AG600 with a wingspan of 38.8 meters is by far the world's largest amphibian aircraft. It has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes. The aircraft can cruise at a top speed of 500 km per hour for a flight range of up to 4,500 km.

In addition to taking off and landing like an ordinary plane, the AG600 can also take off and land from stretches of water that are at least 1,500 meters long, 200 meters wide and 2.5 meters deep.

China officially unveiled the AG600 in July 2016.

The aircraft is primarily aimed at the domestic market with AVIC receiving 17 orders for the plane so far.

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