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Chinese amphibious aircraft completes 1st takeoff

(Reuters) – China’s independently-developed large amphibious aircraft AG600 completed its first water takeoff and landing in Jingmen city in central province of Hubei Saturday morning.

The AG600, codenamed Kunlong, is designed to be the world’s largest amphibious aircraft. It completed its maiden flight in December 2017.

The AG600 is powered by four domestically built turboprop engines and has a range of 12 hours. It will be mainly used for maritime rescue, fighting forest fires and marine monitoring.

It can carry 50 people during search-and-rescue missions, collect 12 tons of water in 20 seconds for firefighting and transport up to 370 tons of water on a single tank of fuel.

Its name “Kunlong” represents high expectation in Chinese culture, with the “kun” meaning an enormous legendary fish and “long” a dragon.

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, respectively.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday sent congratulatory messages on the successful water takeoff and landing of the AG600.

The success of the first on-water flight of the AG600 marked another significant achievement through independent innovation by China’s aviation industry, said Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

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