TAIPEI (CNA) -- China's first home-manufactured AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft, carried out its maiden flight Sunday in Zhuhai, a coastal city in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.
The aircraft, designed and produced by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC), took off from Zhuhai's Jinwan Civil Aviation Airport at 9:39 a.m. and returned 64 minutes later.
The AG600 joins the Yun-20 and the C919 in China's jumbo jet fleet.
The AG600, the first large specialist civil aircraft developed entirely in China, is capable of multiple tasks, such as fighting forest fires and conducting rescue and relief operations at sea, according to the Guangzhou Daily.
The plane is 37 meters long and has a wingspan of 38.8 meters, making it about the size of a Boeing 737.
With a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tons and powered by four turboprop engines, the AG600 will be able to collect 12 tons of water in 20 seconds for firefighting missions and will be able to rescue up to 50 people far offshore, according to the AVIC.
With a maximum cruising speed of 500 kilometers per hour and a maximum range of 4,500 km, the AG600 has a clear advantage over helicopters when it comes to speed, allowing it to cover the whole of the South China Sea, in addition to performing rescue and relief tasks, China's state media reported, citing military experts.
The aircraft can also be used for military purposes, including transporting supplies and military personnel to Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping territorial claims, according to the reports.
It can also be used as an anti-submarine patrol aircraft, according to the reports.