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China's amphibious aircraft carries out first sea-based test flight

By Zhao Lei in Qingdao, Shandong | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-07-26 10:55

China's AG600 seaplane conducted its first sea-based test flight on Sunday morning, marking a new milestone in the program.

The AG600 prototype used for test flight, operated by four crew members, took off at 9:28 am from the Shanzihe Airport in Shandong province’s Rizhao and landed at 10:14 am on a designated area on the Yellow Sea off the neighboring city of Qingdao after a 46-minute flight.

The amphibious aircraft sailed on waters and then took off at 10:18 am to fly back to Shanzihe Airport. It completed a number of testing assignments during the operation, said Aviation Industry Corp of China, the State-owned aviation conglomerate that designed and built the seaplane.

To prepare for the sea-based test flight, the project team has overcome many difficulties caused by the COVID-19 outbreak to make sure the program could proceed on schedule, the company said in a statement.

Before the Sunday flight, the AG600 prototype had made more than 170 preparatory flights that lasted over 300 hours.

Currently, there are two AG600 prototypes under testing – one is for flight tests and the other is for ground-based static tests. The company has plans of manufacturing four additional prototypes for testing, designers have said.

AG600 is China's second amphibious aircraft after the SH-5, which was developed in 1970s for military purposes and retired a long time ago.

China's AG600 seaplane conducted its first sea-based test flight on Sunday morning. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
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