Firefighting variant of AG600 seaplane ready for type certification

2024-March-14 11:20 By: China Daily

An AG600M prototype conducts tests in Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, in January, to examine its cold resistance. YAO XUDONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

The AG600M, the fire-extinguishing variant of China's AG600 seaplane, is scheduled to gain its type certification this year, according to Aviation Industry Corp of China, the nation's leading aircraft maker.

The State-owned conglomerate said that passing the type certification is the major task for the AG600M project team, and engineers have been working to meet the schedule.

Type certification refers to a set of procedures overseen by the Civil Aviation Administration of China, and is one of the crucial stages any civilian aircraft needs to go through to make sure its design and performance meet related requirements.

After receiving type certification, civilian aircraft also need to gain production certification and airworthiness certification.

So far, four AG600M prototypes have been used in test flights and have carried out fire-extinguishing trial operations in typical blaze scenarios.

In January, two prototypes conducted test flights in an extremely cold environment.

The tests took place at Hulunbuir Hailar Airport in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region 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 that in the coming months, the AG600M project team will carry out a series of test flights across the country to meet its schedule of qualifying the aircraft for the type certification 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, which should take less than 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 AG600 is China's second amphibious aircraft model after the SH-5, which was developed in the 1970s for military purposes and has long been retired from service.

It is one of three large-size aircraft to emerge from the nation's ambitious effort to become a top-tier player in the global aviation industry, joining the Y-20 strategic transport plane and the C919 narrow-body jetliner. Both the Y-20 and C919 have been in active service.

Tens of thousands of researchers and engineers from nearly 200 domestic institutes, universities and enterprises took part in the design and production work of the plane.

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.

The aircraft is designed for both ground and water-based takeoffs and landings. It is capable of rescuing 50 people during a maritime rescue mission, designers said.

Editor: JYZ
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