China conducts maiden flight of indigenous amphibious aircraft

China conducts maiden flight of indigenous amphibious aircraft

China conducts maiden flight of indigenous amphibious aircraft

The AG600 is the third member of China's "large aircraft family" following the large freighter Y-20 and large passenger aircraft C919, which made maiden flights in 2013 and 2017.

With a wingspan of 127 feet and powered by four turboprop engines, the aircraft can carry 50 people and stay airborne for 12 hours.

The aircraft can also be used for military purposes, including transporting supplies and military personnel to Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping territorial claims, according to the reports. These specifications have made it the world's largest amphibious aircraft, surpassing Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 and Russia's Beriev Be-200.

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State media Xinhua described the plane as "protector spirit of the sea, islands and reefs".

A congratulatory letter sent by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council was read out at a ceremony to mark the maiden flight, attended by Vice-Premier Ma Kai and Guangdong Party chief Li Xi, as well as hundreds of other officials and about 3,000 spectators.

There are 17 orders already from within China.

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Beijing's claims on nearly the entirely of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in annual trade passes, is strongly contested by other countries.

The enormous airplane still falls short of the legendary Hughes H-4 Hercules, created by billionaire Howard Hughes in 1947 with a wingspan of 97 meters and a length of 67 meters. It is on display in a museum in Oregon. Earlier this month, the seaplane received the government's approval for Sunday's first flight.

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