The AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, successfully completed a taxiing test in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, on Saturday and is ready for its maiden flight in May.
Other tests and check-ups are now underway following the test of how the aircraft moves on the ground under its own power, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co., Ltd (AVIC), the plane’s manufacturer.
The 37-meter-long AG600, with a wingspan of 38.8 meters, has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes. It can collect 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds, AVIC claims, and transport up to 370 tonnes of water on a single tank of fuel.
The plane, which can take off and land on both land and water, is about the size of a Boeing 737, according to Xinhua. It has a maximum flight range of 4,500 kilometers.
It was designed for tasks such as marine rescue and fighting forest fires, Xinhua said.
With modifications, it will also be able to engage in resource exploration and maritime rights protection.
“It is a ship which can fly and also an aircraft which can swim,” Huang Lingcai, chief designer of the AG600 and AVIC deputy general engineer, was quoted as saying in the Xinhua report.
“The aircraft is the latest breakthrough in China’s aviation industry and fills a gap in China’s capability to produce large amphibious planes,” Huang added.
AVIC said in March that the AG600 would embark on its maiden flight over land in late May and on water in the second half of 2017.
The aircraft developer has received orders for 17 of the planes, according to Xinhua.