In a flight trial on Sunday, the AG600 took off and carried out a half-hour circuit before returning for a water landing. It was the second waterborne test for the prototype after a 2018 flight from a reservoir outside Jingmen, Hubei province.

AVIC reported that one of the aircraft's key functions is search and rescue. AVIC also intends to use the Kunlong in an aerial firefighting role, and it says that it will focus on this capability for deployment by 2023.

The aircraft, weighing 50 tonnes, has an operating range of about 2,500 nautical miles - enough to reach remote, contested islands in the South China Sea and fly back to the mainland without refueling. It has enough capacity to carry 50 passengers and can stay aloft for up to 12 hours at a time. Its waterborne operation is restricted to a maximum wave height of two meters; in addition to a hydrodynamic hull form for water landings, it has landing gear for operations from paved runways.