The AVIC AG600 has conducted its first water takeoff and landing, in a major milestone for the world’s largest amphibian aircraft.

Airborne video on Chinese state television shows the four-engined type taxi down a ramp into Zhanghe Reservoir, take off from the water, fly a sortie of unspecified duration, and landing again in water. As the aircraft climbs the ramp out of the reservoir, it is greeted by two water arcs.

The sortie took place on Saturday 20 October. State news organ China Daily reports that premier Xi Jinping commended the team involved in the type’s development.

The first AG600 emerged from production in 2016. The aircraft is produced at the China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) factory at Zhuhai Airport, allowing it to appear on the static display of Airshow China in 2016.

The AG600’s maiden flight, originally planned for 2015, took place on 24 December 2017. In March 2018, AVIC stated that the first flight from water would take place in the second half of 2018.

In late August, the aircraft flew from Zhuhai to Jingmen Weihe airport in central China. The airport sits on the shores of Zhanghe Reservoir, which has an area designated for use by amphibious aircraft.

In the weeks leading up to the 20 October sortie, the aircraft conducted a series of water tests, including high-speed taxi tests.

Powered by four Dongan WJ-6 turboprops, the maximum take-off weight of the AG600 is 53.5t. It is the world's largest amphibian aircraft, even bigger than the Shinmaywa US-2 with an MTOW of 43t.

The AG600 will undertake a range of missions, and its target market is domestic parapublic organisations. Its main functions are search and rescue, and transport. The aircraft can also serve as a water bomber, with a large tank located under the forward half of the aircraft.