China unveils world’s largest amphibious aircraft

• China rolls out the world’s largest amphibious plane
• The seaplane is about the size of a Boeing 747
• The plane, AG600, is designed to fight forest fires and perform marine rescue missions

Is it a boat? Is it a plane? It’s both.

The AG 600, China’s first homegrown amphibious aircraft, was unveiled by its maker, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) on Saturday, July 23 in the southern port city of Zhuhai in China’s Guangdong province.

About the size of a Boeing 747, AG600 is far larger than any other plane built for marine takeoff and landing, Xinhua quoted AVIC’s deputy general manager Geng Ruguang as saying. It measures 37 meters (121 feet) in length with a wingspan of 39 meters (128 feet).

The amphibious plane is intended for fighting forest fires and performing marine rescue missions.

In the case of forest fire, the AG600 boasts of capability to pick up 12 tons of water from nearby lakes or sea in just 20 seconds. It has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tons.

It could also rescue 50 people from distressed sea vessels in a single trip. But the seaplane’s capabilities does not stop there as it could fly non-stop for 4,500 kilometers without refueling.

According to Taipei Times, the “AG600 is very useful in developing and exploiting marine sources” and that it could be used “for environmental monitoring, resource detection and transportation.” It could potentially extend China’s capability to conduct various types of operations in South China Sea, where it built several artificial islands.