World’s largest amphibious aircraft, Chinese AG600 “Kunlong” successfully completes its maiden flight

According to reports, the second AG600M amphibious aircraft prototype completed its first flying test mission on September 10 in Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, in southern China. AVIC, China’s top aircraft manufacturer, reportedly made the announcement.

Business Insider

Large amphibious aircraft called the “AVIC AG600 Kunlong”, was created by AVIC and put together by CAIGA. It is one of the biggest flying boats, having a 53.5 t (118,000 lb) MTOW, and is propelled by four WJ-6 turboprops. Following a five-year development period, assembly began in August 2014. it was unveiled on July 23, 2016, and on December 24, 2017, it took off from Zhuhai Airport.

Its successful maiden flight makes China among the world’s few countries capable of developing a large amphibious aircraft

Huang Lingcai, chief designer of AG600, told state media Xinhua

According to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the successful flight represented an important step forward for the AG600 project and an improvement to the giant amphibious aircraft’s firefighting functional model (AVIC).

It is to be noted that this new aircraft was specifically designed to carry out China’s firefighting operations. The aircraft is also notable for being the first large, specialised aircraft of Chinese construction that satisfies the civil-aircraft regulations’ airworthiness requirements.

The new AG600 can carry up to 12 tonnes of water and has a maximum take-off weight of 60 tonnes. The aircraft also features a pressurised cabin, a fly-by-wire flight control system, an integrated avionics system, and equipment for upcoming firefighting missions.

In challenging weather and environmental situations, the aircraft can rescue up to 50 people in a single flight. The aircraft is also capable of landing on land and taking off from it. The aircraft will enter service in 2023 and be used to put out fires. The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration will certify the firefighting and rescue versions of the AG600 in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Tech and specs

The AG600 amphibious aircraft includes four WJ-6 turboprops, a tricycle retractable landing gear, cantilevered high wings, and a single-body flying boat fuselage. It can operate in areas of water up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) deep and 1,500 by 200 m (4,920 by 660 ft) in size.

It should be able to function in Sea State 3 conditions with waves up to 2 m (6.6 ft) in height. It was designed for aerial firefighting, retrieving up to 50 people from the sea, gathering 12 t (26,000 lb) of water in 20 seconds, and transferring up to 370 t (820,000 lb) of water on a single tank of fuel (31 revolutions).

China Daily

It weighs more than the MTOW of 41 t (90,000 lb). Beriev Be-200 or the ShinMaywa US-2, all of which weigh less than the prototype’s 86 t (190,000 lb) A-40 Beriev.

Previous seaplanes carried more weight, such as the Martin JRM Mars at 75 t (165,000 lb) and the 100 t prototypes (220,000 lb) BV 238 Blohm & Voss, 156 t (345,000 lb) either the 180 t (400,000 lb) Hughes H-4 Hercules or the Saunders-Roe Princess.

Capacity50 rescued or 12 t (26,000 lb) of water
Wingspan36.9 m
Height12.1 m
Maximum Take-off weight53,500 kg (117,947 lb) from land, 49,800 kg (109,800 lb) from choppy sea
Powerplant 4 × WJ-6 turboprops
Propellors 6-bladed
Cruise speed500 km/h 
Range4,500 km
Service ceiling 6,000 m
The Russian BE-200 | Global Fire Monitoring Centre

Once completed, the aircraft will supersede the US-2 from Japan and the BE-200 from Russia as the largest amphibious aircraft in the world.

There are speculations that the US Air Force is likewise attempting to build a powerful amphibious capability. To enable special operations from littoral locations, it apparently aims to develop an amphibious C-130 Hercules transport version. Given the substantial American presence in the Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions, having an amphibious plane available for emergencies becomes essential.


COVER: MilitaryLeak