China has just taken the wraps off the world's largest amphibious plane to enter service. Made by the state's aircraft maker, the AG600 is around the size of a Boeing 737 and will be used to douse forest fires and rescue people in danger offshore.

Measuring 37 m (121 ft) long with a wingspan of 38.8 m (127 ft), the gargantuan amphibious aircraft is capable of taking off and landing both on terra firma and stretches of water, provided they are more than 1,500 m long, 200 m wide and 2.5 m deep (0.93 mi, 656 ft and 8.2 ft).

It has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes (59 tons), a top cruising speed of 500 km/h (310.7 mph) and a range of 4,500 km (2,800 mi), and can fly for 12 hours at a time, according to its builder, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

Around seven years in the making, the AG600 can collect and save up to 50 people from the ocean at once, but its applications may extend beyond search and rescue scenarios. The Xinhua news agency reports that it is also capable of carrying out environmental monitoring in marine settings, along with the detection and transportation of resources.

"The AG600 is like a ship that can fly, with advanced gas-water dynamic engineering and underwater corrosion resistance technology," says Huang Lingcai, chief designer of the plane, as reported by Xinhua.

AVIC says that the AG600 is aimed mostly at the domestic market, with 17 orders placed for the giant plane so far. Its unveiling follows the completed production of China's first large passenger aircraft, the C919, in November last year, and the Chinese heavy military transport plane, the Y-20, which entered service on July 7.

AVIC deputy general manager Geng Ruguang labeled the AG600's completion as "the latest breakthrough in China's aviation industry, which demonstrates an overall improvement of China's national strength and research capacity."

You can check out the plane in the video below.

Source: Xinhua