The prototype of the AVIC AG600 amphibian has commenced testing in the sea in a sortie to China’s north-eastern city of Qingdao.

On the morning of 26 July aircraft B-002A flew from Shanzihe airport and landed in the Yellow Sea near Qingdao, says the China Daily quoting state airframer AVIC.

Source: Xinhua

After 4min on the water the world’s largest amphibian took off again and returned to Shanzihe, where two fire engines shot arcs of water over the returning aircraft.

Videos of the event show a calm sea state in Qingdao during the flight. A four-man crew was aboard the aircraft, which can accommodate 50 in a passenger configuration.

“I’m very excited today,” says AG600 test pilot Zhao Sheng. “The aircraft had previously conducted its maiden flight on land and maiden flight on water. This time, it withstood the tests of complicated situations on the sea.”

He says the aircraft performed well during the sortie, but notes that the water surface was “not very challenging”. Subsequently, the AG600 will be tested in areas with “higher waves and stronger winds”.

Since 2018, the AG600 has conducted tests from the calm waters of China’s Zhanhe Reservoir.

Ostensibly the aircraft is intended for parapublic missions such as search and rescue, transport, and firefighting. The AG600 will also have military uses, such as supporting the network of bases that Beijing has built on atolls in the South China Sea.

Powered by four Dongan WJ-6 turboprops, the AG600 has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 53.5t. The world’s second biggest amphibian is the Shinmaywa US-2, with a MTOW of 43t.