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Firefighting plane completes cold tests

By ZHAO LEI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-21 09:58

A prototype of the AG600M firefighting plane returns to the apron at Hulunbuir Hailar Airport, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, on Jan 27. YAO XUDONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Two prototypes of the AG600M, the firefighting variant of China's AG600 seaplane, recently finished test flights in an extremely cold environment, the Aviation Industry Corp of China said.

The State-owned aircraft maker said in a news release that two AG600M prototypes arrived at Hulunbuir Hailar Airport in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in late January, and then carried out several test flights from the airport.

The tests lasted about two weeks and verified the AG600M's capability and performance in freezing temperatures ranging from -20 C to -40 C. The test crew also checked procedures for operations in cold weather, AVIC said.

The company said the AG600M project team will carry out a series of test flights of the prototypes across the country to meet its schedule of qualifying the aircraft for the type certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China before the end of this year.

After the airworthiness certification work, initial deliveries are expected to start before 2025, according to AVIC.

The AG600M model performed its first land-based test flight in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, in May 2022. It carried out its first water-based test flight in Jingmen, Hubei province, in August that year.

It has a maximum takeoff weight of 60 metric tons. In a typical firefighting operation, it will collect 12 tons of water from a lake or sea within 20 seconds and use it to douse fires over an area of about 4,000 square meters, designers said, adding that the plane has a flight range of up to 4,500 kilometers.

The base AG600 model, which made its maiden flight in December 2017, was China's second amphibious aircraft model after the SH-5, which was developed in the 1970s for military purposes and has long since been retired from service.

With a length of 37 meters and a wingspan of 38.8 meters, the AG600 is roughly the size of a Boeing 737. It is the world's biggest amphibious aircraft, surpassing Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 and Russia's Beriev Be-200.

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