China's domestically-developed AG600 large amphibious aircraft has entered the airworthiness flight-test phase, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) announced on Wednesday.
Two AG600M airplanes, the firefighting model belonging to the AG600 aircraft family, have arrived at the flight test center in Yanliang District in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, said the AVIC, the country's leading plane maker.
It marks the special-mission aircraft's official entry into the flight-test phase, which is a necessary step in obtaining the type certificate, the AVIC said.
At the flight test center, the AG600M airplanes will first receive modifications needed to conduct the various test flights.
Several tests, including the static test, have also been initiated, said the AVIC.
Codenamed Kunlong, or "water dragon" in Chinese, the AG600 aircraft family is being developed to serve in emergency rescue missions. It can be used to fight forest fires, in maritime search and rescue and in other critical emergency rescue missions.
A member of the AG600 family, the AG600M is specifically designed to combat forest fires. Its maximum take-off weight is 60 tonnes, with a water-carrying capacity of up to 12 tonnes and a flight range of up to 4,500 kilometers. It can also conduct low-altitude flying at low speed, enabling it to drop water accurately on fire sites.
2023 is a key year for the development of AG600 aircraft. Aiming to progress toward securing the airworthiness certification, the Chinese developer said the aircraft will be subjected to a series of tests this year.
These tests include the iron-bird test, lab validation test, static test, airworthiness validation flight test, quality tests for airborne devices, and more.
The AG600 aircraft family made constant progress in 2022 in aircraft development and market exploration.
As vital aeronautical equipment in the emergency rescue system, the AG600 has attracted attention from the market.
It is expected that the firefighting and emergency rescue models of the AG600 aircraft will obtain certification in 2024 and 2025, respectively, according to the AVIC.