AVIC has conducted the first night sortie with its AG600 amphibian to test the aircraft’s lighting system.

The work took place in Pucheng County, located in China’s northern Shaanxi province, according to Chinese state media, citing the manufacturer.

AG600 night

Source: Screen grab from Chinese state media

The AG600 takes off for 3h of night flying

On a recent evening in China, the aircraft took of just before sunset, and over the next 3h conducted nine consecutive take-offs and landings.

The tests looked at the interaction of the aircraft’s lighting system with the flightcrew, and are an important step towards certification.

A video clip of the effort suggests the night sorties were to and from a runway. It is not clear if any water take-offs or landings took place, but this appears unlikely given that northern China is relatively dry and lacks large bodies of water.

Most of the aircraft’s amphibious tests have taken place in the calm waters of Zhanghe Reservoir in China’s central Hubei province. Zhanghe airport, which features two terrestrial and one water runway, has been a key testing site for the AG600 programme.

News of the night tests comes weeks after the aircraft demonstrated the ability to act as a parapublic rescue asset, airdropping an emergency life raft and supplies to a swimmer. The aircraft also landed to deploy a motorised dinghy, which then rescued a swimmer and was recovered through aircraft’s cargo door.

Though ostensibly an aircraft for the firefighting and search and rescue missions, the AG600 has clear military applications. The US Department of Defense has observed that the aircraft, the world’s largest amphibian, is one example of Beijing’s advancing airlift capabilities.