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China Transportation The Military Science Technology

Chinese State Company Unveils World's Largest Seaplane (theguardian.com) 157

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: China has completed production of the world's largest amphibious aircraft, state media has said, the latest effort in the country's program to wean itself off dependence on foreign aviation firms. The state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) unveiled the first of the new planes, dubbed the AG600, Saturday in the southern port city of Zhuhai, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The aircraft, which has a maximum range of 4,500 km (2,800 miles), is intended for fighting forest fires and performing marine rescues, it said. At around the size of a Boeing 737, it is far larger than any other plane built for marine take off and landing, Xinhua quoted AVIC's deputy general manager Geng Ruguang as saying. The AG600 could potentially extend the Asian giant's ability to conduct a variety of operations in the South China Sea, where it has built a series of artificial islands featuring air strips, among other infrastructure with the potential for either civilian or military use.
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Chinese State Company Unveils World's Largest Seaplane

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @02:11AM (#52580331)

    Or perhaps it's the 'peking duck'

  • Not as big as... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @02:15AM (#52580337)

    ...the Spruce Goose

    • Not as good-looking either...

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      • Actually, it's wingspan is similar, but it's longer than the Spruce Goose. Do we have any crazy rich folks ready to make a commercial version that is larger, capable of landing on water and land, AND uses significant wood in it's construction?
        • by fnj ( 64210 )

          Actually, it's wingspan is similar, but it's longer than the Spruce Goose.

          On what planet is 38.8 meters "similar" to 99.5 meters? And no, 36.9 meters is not "longer" than 66.7 meters.

    • Re:Not as big as... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @02:42AM (#52580399)

      The Hercules H-4 "Spruce Goose" (Hughes never liked that nickname) is not amphibious, it was a pure seaplane, while this Chinese aircraft is amphibious and it is the largest of its type.

      Thats why the summary starts with "China has completed production of the world's largest amphibious aircraft"...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Funny, the headline I'm looking at right now says, "Chinese State Company Unveils World's Largest Seaplane".
      • The Hercules H-4 "Spruce Goose" (Hughes never liked that nickname) is not amphibious, it was a pure seaplane, while this Chinese aircraft is amphibious and it is the largest of its type.

        Thats why the summary starts with "China has completed production of the world's largest amphibious aircraft"...

        https://science.slashdot.org/s... [slashdot.org]

      • Re: Not as big as... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Henriok ( 6762 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:07AM (#52580655)
        The Russian Be-42 is also larger and is amphibious. This plane isn't largest anything however you slice and dice it. It's fuselage is suspiciously similar to Be-42 too.. China has a habit of building Russian aircraft with local modifications, like the wing and motors in this case.
        • by dave420 ( 699308 )

          Only 2 of those were ever made... This thing is entering mass production.

          • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

            Maybe.
            It reminds me of the R3Y which the US made in the 1950s. The airframe worked well but the engines let it down so less than 20 where built. And no it was not an amphibian but like the PBY if the engines had worked an amphibian version might have been made.
            Also take a look at the birdcage of struts on the tip floats. Those look like they would produce a ton of drag and look rather flimsy. They look a lot like the mounting for the PBM vs the much cleaner mountings on the P5M.
            The US doesn't build amphibia

          • The Be-42 is supposedly back in production as well.

        • I think that has been superseded [wikipedia.org].

          Overall the Chinese design is way behind the times [english.gov.cn]. I can't tell if they're just trying to be different or what.

          I also like how China is dealing with its smog problem by keeping it indoors [english.gov.cn]

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          It's an aircraft. The shape is dictated by physics. Not everything in China is a copy.

          If you want to explore this idea though, I'd point out that the current Ford Fiesta looks like a cheap imitation of a Honda crossed with a Hitachi power drill. I doubt Ford stole the design though, they just took inspiration from similar cars and had their hand somewhat forced by things like European safety regs dictating how much distance between the engine block and the bonnet there has to be.

        • LOLWUT? There's nothing similar about those two planes, completely different layouts, even the fuselages are completely different

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:49AM (#52580771) Homepage Journal

        And besides which, the H-4 was a one-off prototype that made one mile long flight at an altitude of just 20m. It's not clear if it would operate well higher up where there was no ground effect, or if it could carry its rated cargo capacity. And it hasn't flown since the 1940s, and isn't airworthy today, so it's stretching the definition of "aircraft in the world" a bit.

        Don't get me wrong, it was a really interesting aircraft and a marvel of engineering at the time, but you have to hand it to the Chinese that they have something that actually works and is for sale. It's not that US engineering is inferior, it's that the will to build such an aircraft for a fairly limited market isn't there. It reminds me of the attitude the west had in the 50s and 60s.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          And besides which, the H-4 was a one-off prototype that made one mile long flight at an altitude of just 20m. It's not clear if it would operate well higher up where there was no ground effect

          Some of the Ekranoplan ground effect vehicles can fly that high and they are probably larger. Not exactly aircraft though.

          I'm 90% convinced that the spruce goose was mostly war profiteering like a few other useless things at the time that we like to forget. Hughes was a "sharp businessman" after all.

      • It's also worth noting that the H-4 was never flown above its ground effect so flightworthiness was never proven.

    • The Spruce Goose was a giant failure though. It couldn't fly above its ground effect, making it more an attempted aeroplane than an actual aircraft.

      • Unsubstantiated, it only flew once on it's first test flight. There's no evidence that it couldn't fly higher.

    • by tsqr ( 808554 )

      You're right, of course. But the Hughes H-4 was not an amphibious airplane. TFS has a misleading headline; the Chinese aircraft is the largest amphibious aircraft, not the largest seaplane.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Largest by what measure? Largest currently in production? Largest wingspan? Longest? Biggest range? Biggest cargo capacity?

    This plane has a length of 37 meters and a wingspan of 39 meters. The Blohm & Voss BV 238 had a length of over 43 meters and a wingspan of over 60 meters! And that was in WWII.

    Even TFA discounts that title, saying:

    However, its wingspan is considerably smaller than that of the H-4 Hercules, known as the Spruce Goose, which was designed in the 1940s to carry Allied troops into battle. It is regarded as by far the largest seaplane ever built although it only ever made one flight, in 1947.

    • Maybe largest as in that all the other flightworthy things are smaller?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kapiti Kid ( 1003167 )
      What about the Martin Mars? Used as a water bomber in the US. Wingspan of 61 m. Drops 27 tonnes of water. This Chinese thing has a wingspan of 37 m and drops 12 tonnes of water. I think I know which is biggest, and it isn't the AG600.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There's only one Martin Mars still flying, and the current owners are trying to sell it. There's also at least one other that is flight worthy, but that is supposed to be transferred to the NAA museum. This new aircraft (37m) is actually bigger than the Martin Mars (35.74m) in length. The Mars was bigger in wingspan, but with more power, and hopefully reliability, from turboprop engines, such a large wingspan is not necessary for the new aircraft.

        It's only slightly larger, and with the same water tank ca

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Ignore the last bit, I confused myself, the Martin Mars is a seaplane. It'll tie with the Beriev Be-200 for water drop capacity though.

    • I can see this debate will never be resolved, so perhaps we can qualify it as "The largest four-engined turboprop seaplane whose model number begins with an AG built by a Chinese company between the years 2014 and 2017". That should do it.
      • by NotAPK ( 4529127 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @01:14PM (#52583463)

        He he, nice one!

        Actually, reviewing the comments posted there seem to actually be some nice aircraft listed. Here's a summary, from longest to shortest fuselage length:

        Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" [wikipedia.org]
        Origin: USA
        Length: 218 ft 8 in (66.65 m)
        Seaplane only, not amphibious, not in production.

        Saunders Row Princess [wikipedia.org]
        Origin: UK
        Length: 148 ft (45 m)
        Seaplane only, not amphibious, not in production.

        Beriev A-40 [wikipedia.org]
        Origin: Russia
        Length: 143 ft 10in (43.84 m)
        Amphibious, not in production, though production may be re-started.

        AVIC TA-600 [wikipedia.org] [THIS STORY'S SUBJECT]
        Origin: China
        Length: 121 ft 1 in (36.9 m)
        Amphibious, in production.

        Martin Mars [wikipedia.org]
        Origin: USA
        Length: 117 ft 3 in (35.74 m)
        Seaplane only, not amphibious, not in production.

        Beriev Be-200 [wikipedia.org]
        Origin: Russia
        Length: 105 ft (32.0 m)
        Amphibious, in production

        • by NotAPK ( 4529127 )

          Sorry, forgot the Dornier:

          Dornier DO X [wikipedia.org]
          Origin: Germany
          Length: 131 ft 4 in (40 m) X2 model was supposed to be "larger"
          Seaplane only, not amphibious.

        • by NotAPK ( 4529127 )

          Hang on, sorry to keep posting, but there is another Chinese amphibious plane that is bigger than this one. So in no way, shape, or form, is this plane the "largest" of anything by any stretch.

          Harbin SH-5 [wikipedia.org]
          Origin: China
          Length: 127 ft 7 in (38.9 m)
          Amphibious, still in operation, 7 built.


  • What is this? a technicality? -will they say it's the "largest current production seaplane"?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hughes_H-4_Hercules
  • Did I wake up for the 1930s? I thought interest in giant seaplanes died out after WW2.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:26AM (#52580693) Homepage Journal

    So it's designed for firefighting & rescue. Nice to see it's intended for a beneficial use. And who doesn't believe that? After all there's absolutely no reason at all that the Chinese might want to transport things like military equipment to places where there are no long-runway airfields but plenty of water.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Beneficial is in the eye of the user. An A-10 is really benefical if you are in the US military and are pinned down by enemy fire.

  • by jratcliffe ( 208809 ) on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:32AM (#52580705)
    Yup, I'm sure this thing was built for fighting forest fires and marine rescue. I bet it can also pick up the occasional manganese nodule. [wikipedia.org]
    • by jcr ( 53032 )

      Why would anyone use an aircraft for ocean mining? Boats are vastly cheaper.

      -jcr

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Tuesday July 26, 2016 @05:59AM (#52580795) Journal

    This plane's wingspan is only 151 feet. The Hughes Hercules has a wingspan of 218 feet. The Martin Mars has a wingspan of 200 feet, and it's still in use for firefighting operations in Canada.

    -jcr

  • Sea planes are mostly planes that can use water as a takeoff and landing surface, but don't generally operate on the water as seagoing vessels.

    Has anyone ever built sort of the opposite, a vessel that can fly but has some designed in ability to stay on the water more in the manner of a boat?

    Maybe with gas turbines for electric generation, electric motor props and a electric pod drives retractable into the fuselage for marine propulsion?

    Perhaps the engineering is too complex or it would do neither job well e

    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      Anything lightweight enough to fly is much too flimsy to navigate the open ocean. A Boeing 747 has a skin gauge of 1.8-2.2 mm, and is lightweight aluminum. The hull plating of the Titanic was 18.75 mm of solid steel.

      And the speed and range on water would only be a tiny fraction of the speed and range in the air, anyway. That said, flying boats do have the ability to float around for extended periods if they have to (like if they break down), and they can taxi clumsily on the surface. A Catalina landed on th

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Is something like this [wikipedia.org] what you had in mind?

  • 300 ft wingspan for the Hercules H4 (Spruce Goose).. 113 ft for the 737 (used for comparison).

    Howard Hughes is amused.

  • It is not very big. 737 fuselages will fit in, and are transported by flat bed rail cars.

    True 737 is not amphibious, but an airbus of similar size successfully landed in the Hudson. Piloted by Salty Cheeseburger or someone named like that.

  • My favorite seaplane:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • The article states this Chinese plane is roughly the size of a 737, which is given in wikipedia as having a wingspan of 117 ft with winglets, and a length of 138 ft max, both of those numbers for the 737 NG.

    Back in the late 30's, Pan Am and BOAC flew the Boeing 314 Clipper. [wikipedia.org]

    Boeing 314 had wingspan of 152 ft, length of 106 ft, cruise of 163 kts, range of 3,685 miles at cruise. 11 crew, 74 passengers.

    OK so it's not pressurized, it cruised at 163 kts and may not even be the largest flying boat made - but this

  • China supplies 80% medicines
    http://m.bbc.com/news/business... [bbc.com]

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