China's Building the World's Biggest Sea Plane

Just because the Spruce Goose never took off doesn't mean that aquatic planes in general are wholly useless; these aquatic turbo-props are still used for a variety of humanitarian efforts throughout the world. Now, China has announced that it's currently developing the world's biggest functional sea plane. But will it ever get off the ground?

Built by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA), the TA "Dragon" 600 amphibious aircraft will boast an estimated 53.5 ton maximum takeoff weight and upper operational range of 5,000 kilometers (more than 3,100 miles), making the aircraft ideal for emergency operations—including firefighting and humanitarian relief efforts—where short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities are required. Plus, its seafaring abilities enable the plane to land in remote areas where lakes and other bodies of water are present but where landing strips or airfields may not be.

The plane is still under development, though CAIGA officials are confident that it will be ready for initial flight testing by the end of 2015. Should the Dragon 600 pass its tests, it should enter service shortly thereafter, dethroning Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 (shown above) as the world's largest operational amphibious aircraft. [Aerospace Tech - India Today]