China’s homegrown AG600M amphibious aircraft passes test in extreme coldness, proving reliability in harsh conditions
Published: Feb 20, 2024 05:44 PM
Kunlong AG600M large amphibious aircraft Photo: AVIC

Kunlong AG600M large amphibious aircraft Photo: AVIC

China's domestically developed AG600M aircraft, a firefighting variant of the AG600 large amphibious aircraft family, has reportedly passed test under extreme cold weather, according to the aircraft developer Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). Chinese experts hailed the milestone verified the model's high reliability in harsh weather conditions, affirming its potential for a wide range of applications in the future.

On Tuesday, two AG600M large amphibious airplanes completed the cold-weather flight test at an airport in Hailar of Hulunbuir in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, said AVIC, the country's leading aircraft manufacturer.

The flight test lasted around two weeks in a cold environment with temperature ranging from -20 C to - 40 C, which was a challenging setting to assess the aircraft's performance under low temperatures, frost and freezing conditions.

Wei Dongxu, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the flight test marks a significant milestone in China's aerospace technology.

These tests aimed to assess the aircraft's adaptability to complex environments, particularly in regions prone to icing conditions, Wei noted.

The successful deployment of the AG600M in such harsh conditions underscores its robustness and reliability, affirming its potential for a wide range of applications in the future, he said.

The expert also said that, with the successful test, the AVIC continues to demonstrate its prowess in manufacturing specialized aircraft, with the AG600M serving as a testament to the quality and resilience of Chinese engineering.

According to the AVIC, the recent flight tests were conducted to verify the functions and performance of the AG600M aircraft's major systems, including power, fuel, flight control and avionics, in cold environments.

Additionally, the tests have evaluated the aircraft's maintainability in low temperatures. The two AG600M airplanes undertook ferry flights, traveling approximately 2,000 kilometers in six hours from Northwest China's Shaanxi Province to Hailar Airport in late January.

This test marked the longest ferry flight mission completed by the aircraft and presented them with the most challenging route environment to date. AVIC said that cold-weather flight tests are crucial for obtaining airworthiness certification and gaining insights into the future operation and maintenance of the AG600M aircraft.

As the aircraft proves its mettle even in the most challenging environment, it opens up new avenues for China's aerospace sector, promising broader market opportunities on both domestic and international fronts, Chinese observers said.

The AG600M firefighting aircraft has entered the key phase of airworthiness compliance verification, and it is set to obtain the type certificate before the end of 2024, the developer added.

China's independently developed AG600 aircraft family is being developed as vital advanced aeronautical equipment to strengthen the country's emergency-rescue capabilities.

Codenamed Kunlong, or "water dragon" in Chinese, the AG600 aircraft family is being developed to serve various emergency rescue missions. It can be used in forest firefighting, maritime search and rescue, and other critical emergency rescue missions.

The AG600 series amphibious aircraft features a unique configuration consisting of an integrated aircraft-shaped upper body and ship-bottom-shaped lower body.

As a member of the AG600 family, the AG600M is specifically designed to combat forest fires. Its maximum take-off weight is 60 tons, with a water-carrying capacity of up to 12 tons and flight range of up to 4,500 kilometers. It can conduct low-altitude flying at low speed, enabling it to drop water accurately on fire sites, Global Times learned from the AVIC previously.