Friday, March 31, 2017

China To Debut World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft, Handy For Supplying Newly-Built Islands (plus Tim Draper does a cameo)

From Reuters:
China's domestically developed AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft, will make its maiden flight in late May from the southern city of Zhuhai, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.
China has stepped up research on advanced military equipment as it adopts a more muscular approach to territorial disputes in places such as the busy South China Sea waterway, rattling nerves in the Asia-Pacific region and the United States.

The aircraft will take its first flight over land and then another on water in the second half of 2017, Xinhua said, citing its manufacturer, state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC).
AVIC has spent almost eight years developing the aircraft, which is roughly the size of a Boeing 737 and is designed to carry out marine rescues and battle forest fires.

The aircraft has received 17 expressions of interest so far, Xinhua added. It has a maximum flight range of 4,500 km (2, 800 miles) and a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes....MORE
2800 mile range for, uh forest fires, yeah that's the ticket.

Just so the Chinese know, Draper, Fisher, Jurvetson's Tim Draper is backing a drone version of Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose, which grown-up-gosling was designed to haul 750 troops and a couple tanks.

Despite some posts that could be construed as casting aspersions on Mr. Draper's sanity:
World’s Most Loyal V.C. Says Theranos Critics Are Just Haters
Silicon Valley: Venture Capitalist Tim Draper Has a Cringworthy YouTube Channel
Venture Capitalist Tim Draper Wants To Split California Into Pieces And Turn Silicon Valley Into Its Own State
"The Silicon Valley Secessionist Clarifies His Batshit Insane Plan"
We still have respect for Mr. Draper's money and Sand Hill Road power. Here's the new plane via SiliconBeat:

Picture of the Lun (Ekranoplan)

Oops, wrong plane. That's the Soviet "Lun". And yes those are rocket launchers on top of the fuselage.
Here's the right story, SiliconBeat March 28:

Richmond firm backed by VC Tim Draper plans to fly test versions of giant amphibious cargo drone over San Pablo Bay this summer

What may be a revolution in goods transport will be on show later this year, flying over San Pablo Bay north of San Francisco — if all goes according to a Richmond startup’s plan.
The 30-foot cargo drones winging over the water will be prototypes of a much bigger unmanned, amphibious aircraft that the company envisions as an important new element of global supply chains.
The intended end product for Natilus is a cargo drone the size of a jetliner that takes off and lands on water, carrying goods from port to port.

To keep down the regulatory burden, and avoid the need for infrastructure such as airports, the drones would fly over uninhabited ocean areas and below Federal Aviation Administration-controlled airspace. They’d land 12 miles from a port and be piloted in remotely, according to the company.
Natilus claims its planned cargo drone, built using carbon fiber composites, would cost $20 million, less than a tenth of the cost of a passenger jetliner....MORE