Tuesday, 28 July 2020

The return of the flying boats? China flies AG600 amphibious aircraft from sea.....

There are few other images that evoke a sense of the golden romantic days of aviation in times gone by than that of a flying boat. These amphibious aircraft of a bygone era seem to create a sense of wonder, perhaps even a touch of nostalgia and a hankering for something that probably none, or very very few of us has ever experienced or ever likely to, that is until now!

A new Chinese developed amphibious aircraft has taken flight for the first time, from the sea, a feat that has spiked a ripple of interest around the world, as the photos of this maiden flight are shared and commented about in glowing terms. 

The AG600, from the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) a State-owned and controlled entity is currently the world's largest amphibious aircraft and has long-range capabilities with the bonus of not needing a land-based runway to set down at or depart from. 

The aircraft has been designed to be an all-rounder, with the concept of “developing one aircraft into multi-types, land and sea.” The AG600 can be modified with necessary devices and facilities according to the requirements of potential customers to fulfil the requirements for maritime surveillance, resource detection, passenger and cargo transport as well as other tasks.

Wing Span38.8m
Overall Length36.9m
Overall Height12.1m
Maximum Take-off Weight49000Kg
Maximum Level Speed560Km/h
Minimum Level Speed220 Km/h
Take-off and Landing Anti-Wave2m
Maximum Range4500km
Maximum Water Capacity12000 Kg
Service Ceiling6000m

Image AVIC
Last Sunday morning just before twenty minutes after ten in Qingdao, Shandong Province, the AG600 took off from the sea off and completed a special test flight lasting just over thirty minutes. Whilst it was technically just a short flight, it was also a massive leap forward in the development of the aircraft and firmly puts China out there as a serious player in the general aviation industry.

The aircraft has the ability to take off and land from both water and land and with a range of nearly 2800 miles, its versatility is currently unmatched. The aircraft appears to be ideal to operate in a firefighting capacity as it can carry 12000kg's of water and operate for a range of airfields or areas of water. 

Another area where the aircraft could come into its own would be a maritime rescue operation. The aircraft would be capable of rescuing around 50 people at a time in a search and rescue configuration 

What the future holds for this new aircraft is unclear, especially as trade and diplomatic tensions between China and the U.S. are being stretched to breaking point with the U.S. influence reaching Europe and Australiasia. A vast overseas market which rightfully should be a unique aircraft of this type, will no doubt be shrunken to just a few staunchly supportive nations of China, if it even does eventually get sold outside its home nations borders. 

Image AVIC

Image AVIC

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