People take photos of AG-600 at the Jinwan Airport. [Photo by Zhao Lei/chinadaily.com.cn]
In April, the first ground taxiing test was successful. In early December, the seaplane received the government's approval for the first flight.
The AG-600 is one of three large aircraft grown out of the nation's ambitious efforts to become a top-tier player in the global aviation sector, joining the Y-20 strategic transport plane, which has been delivered to the Chinese Air Force since July 2016, and the C919 narrow-body jetliner that is under flight testing.
The aircraft will mainly be tasked with performing aerial firefighting and maritime search and rescue. It can also be refitted to conduct marine environmental inspections, marine resource surveys as well as personnel and supply transportation, according to AVIC.
Powered by four domestically designed WJ-6 turboprop engines, AG-600 has a size roughly comparable to that of a Boeing 737 and a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 metric tons. These specifications have made it the world's largest amphibious aircraft, surpassing Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 and Russia's Beriev Be-200.