Chinese aircraft manufacturer China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) has started trial production of its TA600 amphibious aircraft, claimed to be the world's largest of its kind.
With an expected maiden flight late next year, the Chinese plane would replace Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft as the largest of its kind globally.
Larger than Boeing's 737 jet, the TA600 aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5t and a maximum range of over 5,000km.
CAIGA general manager Fu Junxu was quoted by Xinhua as saying: "After a period of trial flights, the aircraft will be put onto the market."
With work underway from the past five years, the aircraft will play a vital role in China's disaster prevention and emergency rescue system by offering assistance in forest fire and air-sea missions.
The latest aircraft would join China's first domestically developed light amphibious aircraft, the HO300, which completed its maiden flight in November 2010.
The 8.9m-long, 12.46m-wide multiuse amphibious aircraft offers a maximum cruise speed of 231km/h and can land on land and water, while taking off from plateaus at altitudes under 3,500m.
Capable of carrying four to six passengers, the aircraft can takeoff with loads of 1,680kg and has a maximum flight range of 1,300km.
Image: Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 short takeoff and landing amphibious aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Taisyo.