China's first indigenous seaplane under assembly
China has started the assembly of its first domestically developed seaplane, the AG-600. The aircraft is said to be the largest seaplane in the world and is expected to take a big share in the international market.
Assembly has started on a giant in Zhuhai city, south China's Guangdong province. The AG-600 is the first large seaplane developed by China. It is powered by four turboprop engines and features a maximum takeoff weight of more than 50 tons. And its operational flight range is at the world's top level.
"The southernmost point of China's territory is the shoal of Zengmu Ansha. And the distance between the nearest harbor to the shoal is around 2,400 kilometers. An equipped AG-600 seaplane can fly a maximum distance of 5,000 kilometers, and its effective rescue flight range reaches 3,000 kilometers. So it's not an exaggeration to say this seaplane is of national significance," said Qu Jingwen, manager of China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co.
The aircraft will be the world's largest amphibious aircraft. Its maximum takeoff weight and flight range surpass those of other countries, including Japan and Russia.
The designer says the AG-600 will play an important role in forest fire control, maritime rescue, personnel and supply transport, and law enforcement tasks at sea.
"There's always a golden rescue time for survivors in the open sea. The time limit is usually controlled in seven to 12 hours, but the speed of the rescue boat is too slow. The cruise speed of this seaplane is 480 kilometers per hour. If other conditions allow, the seaplane can land directly on the water surface, and then send out lifeboats. In this way we could conduct a successful rescue," said Huang Lingcai, chief designer of AG-600.
The aircraft maker has received 17 orders from domestic companies. And some countries with many islands, such as Malaysia and New Zealand, have expressed interest.
According to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the country will need at least 100 seaplanes over the next 15 years.