China’s first homegrown amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight

Beijing: China’s first indigenous amphibious aircraft, believed to be the world’s largest, completed its maiden flight on Sunday, taking off from Zhuhai, the coastal city off the disputed South China Sea.

China is engaged in the military build-up and the successful flight by the aircraft will add to Beijing’s might as it grows assertive in its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The aircraft AG600, code-named “Kunlong”, successfully soared into the sky from the Jinwan Civil Aviation Airport. The flight lasted about one hour.

Zhuhai is a port in Guangdong province.

“Its successful maiden flight makes China among the world’s few countries capable of developing a large amphibious aircraft,” Xinhua news agency quoted Huang Lingcai, chief designer of AG600, as saying.

The aircraft, powered by four domestically-built turboprop engines, has a 39.6-metre-long fuselage and a 38.8-metre wingspan, said its developer, the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

According to the AVIC source, the amphibious aircraft, with a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes and a top cruising speed of 500 km per hour, can fly for 12 hours at a time.