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World’s largest seaplane completes maiden flight World’s largest seaplane completes maiden flight
China has built the largest seaplane the world has seen since Howard Hughes’s legendary ‘Spruce Goose.’ The Asian superpower’s first-ever attempt at the feat,... World’s largest seaplane completes maiden flight

China has built the largest seaplane the world has seen since Howard Hughes’s legendary ‘Spruce Goose.’ The Asian superpower’s first-ever attempt at the feat, the AG600, made its maiden voyage on July 26.

The AG600, also known as ‘Kunlong’, has been in development since 2009, but the public has seen it only a handful of times since then –  the last being a waterborne test flight from a reservoir in Hubei province in 2018.

The AG600 took off from calm water in the Yellow Sea, just off the coast of the nearby city of Qingdao. Chinese state media captured the 31 minute voyage and subsequent landing.

The plane, with its 126ft long wingspan, standing height of 39ft, and length of 121ft, will be used in ”forest firefighting, marine rescue, and other critical emergency rescue missions.”

Weighing 50 tons and with a range of nearly 2 500 nautical miles, the plane can hop between the mainland and one of the many chain islands in the South China Sea without refuelling, according to the Maritime Executive. The Kunlong seaplane can carry 50 passengers and, because of the hydrodynamic hull and traditional landing gear, can perform marine and land-based take-offs and landings.

Some analysts have said the craft could have some military application too. The AG600 can take off with a maximum weight of 53 tons and could conduct tasks such as anti-submarine warfare, convoy escort, reconnaissance, and search and rescue operations.

The primary role of the craft, according to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), will be as an aerial firefighter. The AG600 can take on 12 tons of water in 20 seconds, making it optimal for the task. AVIC said it would focus on this task until 2023.

The AG600, the size of a Boeing 737, is now the newest and largest seaplane in the world. However, it pales in comparison to the Hercules H-4.

Nicknamed the Spruce Goose or Flying Lumberyard because it was created almost entirely of birch wood and aluminium, the 98m wingspan behemoth was created in 1947. The Spruce Goose was a prototype created by the eccentric billionaire, Howard Hughes. The plane saw one brief flight for less than a minute before retiring to Long Beach California, and eventually, its current home, the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in Oregon.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a33434618/ag-600-seaplane-first-water-flight/

https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/chinese-firm-tests-world-s-largest-operational-flying-boat

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