An AG600M amphibious aircraft is seen dropping water during a test in Zhanghe, Jingmen, Central China’s Hubei Province, September 27, 2022. /AVIC

China’s self-developed amphibious aircraft Kunlong AG600M, designed for aerial firefighting, completed a key test of drawing and dropping 12 tonnes of water on Tuesday, and received the first batch of purchase orders for six planes.

It marked a critical step forward for the aircraft to enter the market, according to its manufacturer – the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

What’s the test about?

During the test at an airport in Zhanghe, Jingmen, Central China’s Hubei Province, the AG600M, with a maximum water carrying capacity of 12 tonnes, first took off from the airport at 10:05 a.m. (Beijing Time), dropped the 12 tonnes of water it had carried to the designated area, and then landed smoothly on the water in Zhanghe Reservoir.

After that, it drew 12 tonnes of water from the reservoir in 15 seconds during its high-speed glide on the water, took off, completed a series of flight tasks in the air, dropped the water again precisely to the targeted area, and then landed back in the reservoir at 10:16 a.m.

The aircraft was in good condition during the whole process, with all its systems functioning stably and all designed targets met, according to the AVIC.

The test systematically and effectively evaluated the AG600M’s core function of aerial firefighting, marking a crucial step for the aircraft to serve China’s emergency rescue system and natural disaster prevention and control system.

At the test site, two companies signed contracts with the AVIC to purchase six AG600M aircraft.

An AG600M amphibious aircraft is seen gliding on the water during a test in Zhanghe, Jingmen, Central China’s Hubei Province, September 27, 2022. /AVIC

A key project in China’s large aircraft development plan

The AG600 large amphibious aircraft family is seen as an essential part of China’s emergency-rescue system. It’s developed to meet the country’s urgent needs in firefighting and marine rescue missions and other critical emergency-rescue operations.

It is China’s first large special-mission aircraft developed in accordance with civil airworthiness standards.

The AG600, together with the Y-20 large transport aircraft and the C919 large passenger plane, are three key projects in China’s large aircraft development plan.

It has a maximum take-off weight of 60 tonnes, a minimum level speed of 220 km/h and a range of 4,500 km, with excellent taking off and landing performances at low altitude, low speed and short distance.

The components and systems of the aircraft, including its engine and critical airborne systems, are 100 percent domestically developed, AVIC said.

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