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China unveils world's largest amphibious aircraft

The new amphibious aircraft of China. A Xinhua photo

BEIJING (BNS): China has officially unveiled an indigenously built massive amphibious aircraft which it intends to use for fighting forest fires and marine rescue missions.

The large sea plane having a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes was rolled off a production line in the southern city of Zhuhai on July 23.

The AG600, built by the state-run Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), has a top cruising speed of 500 km per hour and a maximum flight range of 4,500 km.

The 37-meter-long AG600 with a wingspan of 38.8 meters is by far the world's largest amphibian aircraft, about the size of a Boeing 737, AVIC deputy general manager Geng Ruguang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

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, the news report said.

Besides conducting marine rescue operations and dousing forest fires, the aircraft would be useful in developing and exploiting marine resources, being adaptable to conduct marine environmental monitoring, resource detection and transportation, the Xinhua report said.

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

The unveiling of the AG600 comes shortly after another Chinese heavy transport aircraft Y-20 officially entered military service on July 7.

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