The AG600M, an upgraded version of the AG600 seaplane developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), completed its maiden flight taking off and landing on water.
The flight took place on August 29, 2022, and saw the amphibious aircraft registered B-0DCC taking off from Zhanghe Reservoir bordering Jingmen-Zhanghe Airport in the central Hubei province. After an 18-minute test flight to examine the aircraft systems, it successfully landed back on the water.
The AVIC AG600 is powered by four Dongan WJ-6 turboprop engines and is reportedly capable of staying 12 hours in the air and carrying 50 people.
It is significantly larger than any other operating aircraft designed to land on and take off from water, with a size akin to a narrow-body airliner such as the Boeing 737 or the Airbus A320. The AG600’s first takeoff took place on December 24, 2017, followed by another from Zhanghe Reservoir in 2018.
The AG600M currently being tested is to be used primarily as a water bomber, according to the Chinese state media channel CGTN. Among the noticeable design differences from the original version, the AG600M seems to sport a larger underbelly. The maiden flight of the variant, from the ground, took place on May 31, 2022.
“It is expected to serve firefighting missions in 2023 and enter the market in 2025,” CGTN reported.