China’s MA60 firefighting aircraft embarks on airworthiness flight tests

February 2, 2024
Updated 2024/02/02 at 7:59 PM
4 Min Read
The MA60 firefighting aircraft conducts the water drop over a simulated fire scene during an emergency rescue drill at the Zhanghe Airport in Jingmen, central China's Hubei Province, Oct. 27, 2023. (Aviation Industry Corporation of China/Handout via Xinhua)

by Xinhua writer Hu Tao

BEIJING, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) — China’s MA60 firefighting aircraft, an independently developed aeronautical equipment tailored to serve emergency rescue missions, has entered its crucial stage of airworthiness compliance flight tests, according to the developer.

MA60 firefighting aircraft, a new member of the Modern Ark multipurpose aircraft family, initiated its flight tests in late January to verify its compliance with the airworthiness regulations of the Chinese civil aviation authorities, said the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

It has already performed various flight test subjects, such as hedgehopping and dropping of its maximum water capacity of six tonnes at a very low altitude of about 50 meters during the flight tests, the AVIC added.

Flight tests have demonstrated that water dropped from the aircraft can cover a ground area measuring 200 meters in length and 30 meters in width.

MA60 firefighting aircraft is a large and medium-sized fixed-wing plane that is specially tailored to serve aerial firefighting and other rescues.

It is developed by AVIC XAC Commercial Aircraft Co., Ltd. in Xi’an, located in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, with independent intellectual property rights. The aircraft has been designed in strict adherence to the airworthiness regulations stipulated by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The development and progress of the MA60 firefighting aircraft will support China in cultivating a comprehensive aerial firefighting capability with small, medium and large aircraft, which will further support the country in building a national comprehensive emergency rescue system, said Guo Zhiwu, a senior official with the Ministry of Emergency Management.

“The application of fixed-wing aircraft in fighting against fire in China is in the initial stage, with broad market prospects,” Guo said.

He noted that the further development of the MA60 firefighting aircraft, along with pilot training and other related activities, will facilitate the successful integration of this new aircraft model into the emergency air rescue system.

Crew members pose as the MA60 firefighting aircraft completed a key test flight, which consisted of hedgehopping and dropping six tonnes of water, in Suining, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, Dec. 9, 2023.  (Aviation Industry Corporation of China/Handout via Xinhua)

As a key model developed for China’s emergency air rescue system, the MA60 firefighting aircraft features remarkable maneuverability and capability to fly at low speeds in low altitudes. This enables precise and effective water release over fire sites in complex settings, enhancing the overall efficiency of firefighting operations.

It will mainly be used for combating forest and grassland fires, as it can perform multiple rescue operations, such as fire monitoring, water dropping, telecommunications support, as well as the transportation of personnel and supplies.

The development team will accelerate follow-up flight tests and related works for the aircraft to facilitate its development, airworthiness and delivery, and contribute to China’s emergency rescue works, the AVIC said.

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