World's largest amphibious plane makes maiden flight in China
After eight years in development, the world's largest amphibious plane has taken to the skies in China for its maiden flight. The AG600, codenamed Kunlong, comfortably spent one-hour flying at an altitude of 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) before safely landing back at the Jinwan Civil Aviation Airport in Zhuhai.
This enormous plane, around the size of a Boeing 737 with a wingspan of 38.8 m (127 ft) and a fuselage stretching 39.6 m (130 ft), has been designed for a variety of domestic applications in China, from civil rescue and firefighting functions to military defense purposes in the disputed South China Sea.
The design is being heralded as a landmark for Chinese aviation engineering with 98 percent of all the plane's components being made inside the country.
"It shows that the development of civil aviation industry in our country was lifted to a new level and that our capacity of independent research and development in this area has increased by a big margin," says Minister of Industry and Information Technology, Miao Wei.
It's hard to talk about giant amphibious planes without mentioning the granddaddy of them all, the infamous Spruce Goose from the 1940s. Although the Kunlong is only a fraction of the size of this notorious dream project from eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes, it has certainly exceeded the Spruce Goose's brief 26 second maiden flight.
The Kunlong's ability to take off and land on water makes it an incredibly useful maritime rescue aircraft and the Chinese engineers suggest the plane can safely operate on seas with up to two-meter-high (6.5-ft) waves. The plane's maiden water flight is set to take place within the next six months.
Take a look at the maiden flight and landing for this massive plane in the video below.