China’s AG600 amphibious aircraft has entered the flight-test phase to obtain an airworthiness certification, according to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). Two AG600M airplanes, the firefighting model of the AG600 aircraft, have arrived at the flight-test center in Yanliang District in Xi’an for official entry into the flight-test phase, a necessary step for obtaining a type certificate.
The AG600M is designed explicitly for forest firefighting, with a maximum take-off weight of 60 tonnes, a water-carrying capacity of 12 tonnes, and a flight range of 4,500 km. The AG600 aircraft family is being developed for emergency rescue missions, such as forest firefighting, maritime search and rescue, and other critical operations.
In September 2021, the AG600M completed a successful water carry and drop test in Jingmen, Central China’s Hubei Province, effectively evaluating its core capacity. This marks a critical step forward for the aircraft to serve China’s emergency rescue and natural disaster prevention and control systems. In addition, two companies have signed contracts with the AVIC to purchase six AG600M aircraft, indicating a step forward in its market progress.
The AG600 is China’s first large special-mission aircraft developed according to civil airworthiness standards. The AG600, along with the Y-20 large transport aircraft and C919 large passenger airplane, are three of China’s key projects in large aircraft development. The AG600 has a pressurized cabin, fly-by-wire control, integrated avionics, and a comprehensive task system, making it safer and more capable of serialized development than the original demonstrator aircraft.
In 2023, the AG600 will undergo a series of tests, including the iron-bird test, lab validation test, static test, airworthiness validation flight test, and quality tests for airborne devices, to secure airworthiness certification. The AG600 aircraft models made constant progress in 2022 regarding aircraft development and market exploration. AVIC aims for the firefighting and emergency response variants of the AG600 aircraft to gain certification in 2024 and 2025, respectively.