The China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. has started to build the TA600, which will be the largest amphibious aircraft in production, the company has announced. The TA600, aimed at the firefighting and rescue markets, will fly for the first time sometime in 2015, said Fu Junxu, a CAIGA executive. The airplane will be powered by four turboprop engines. It will be bigger than a B737, with a wingspan of 130 feet, takeoff weight of about 53 tons, speeds up to about 300 knots, and a range up to about 3,100 miles. The company has been developing the design for the airplane for about five years.
The airplane may have strategic value to the Chinese government, according to a recent article in Popular Science. The seaplane could provide a new and efficient way to rapidly deploy or resupply remote island outposts in the disputed South China Sea region.