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Form follows function? December 17, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.


Here’s the Chinese AVIC AG600 flying boat, the largest amphibious aircraft in production anywhere so it would seem. It looks remarkably like Soviet-era flying boats, but I was wondering was that more a case of form follows function – that large, modern flying boats have a similar design because of basic constraints on them?


1. Dr. X - December 17, 2016

Looks like a smaller version of the Saunders-Roe Princess:



2. Michael Carley - December 18, 2016

Function drives form to some degree on this: you need high wings to keep them out of the water, and the hull has to be a certain shape. What strikes me is that in some ways it doesn’t look very flying-boat: if you look at the wing and how it joins the fuselage, you could be looking at an A400M, Hercules or ATR42/72. The interesting bit is the way the nose is tilted up, I assume to keep it clear of the water.


3. FergusD - December 18, 2016

Why do they need a flying boat, they seem to have gone out of fashion elsewhere. Is because of all those islands in the South China Sea?


Michael Carley - December 18, 2016

They are still useful for island countries and places with big wet interiors (Canada uses floatplanes to connect Northern regions) and Japan has one for search and rescue, which will apparently go on the export market:


There is indeed a seaplane terminal in Glasgow, serving Scottish islands:


Also this Chinese one doubles as a water bomber.


Dr. X - December 19, 2016

When we were living in northern Ontario in the 1970s, my Dad took a trip further north in a WW2 era Catalina. The nun in the passenger seat next to him didn’t understand that the craft was “dual-use”, and when she it saw it landing on water, she got out her rosary beads and started praying at a rate of knots. . .


4. EWI - December 18, 2016

The Chinese military have a reputation for just copying whatever they fancy in other nation’s military designs, so I wouldn’t be surprised that it looks quite like something else.


5. GW - December 19, 2016

Lovely craft – I’ve never seen one land or take off.

As an occasional user of non-motorised watercraft – canoes and dinghies – I wouldn’t fancy sharing a waterway with one of those. I’d imagine the wash from takeoff and landing would be something else.

Or perhaps not worse than the standard idiot on their jet-ski / monster cruiser.


6/5against - December 19, 2016

I saw a small airplane take off once from a lake in the US. It really was no worse in terms of disturbance than a jet ski. But the military sized aircraft in the picture? That surely needs a large body of water to land or take off – more like the open sea than a small lake somewhere.


Michael Carley - December 19, 2016

Apparently the Chinese one (which is big) needs 1500x200x2.5m to take off. The actual take off length will be less than that (take off lengths include the distance you need to stop if you abort). I’m quite surprised it only needs 2.5m depth.


I like the look of this one from the same company:



FergusD - December 19, 2016

I have a flight to Malaysia and then on to Oz (and back) coming up in a few months. I somewhat dread long haul. On the last one we had a few years ago to India herself and I came over all “funny”. Felt really quite ill but it was hard to explain the actual feeling and I have no idea waht is was. Could have been imagined, or the cabin air?

So…what I would prefer to travel on would be one of those huge Short (Belfast built?) flying boats of the 1930s. Even if it took a week. Lower alititude so you can see the world, beds, plenty of room, good food, luxury. Must have been great.


The upcoming flights are on an A380 and 787 so I suppose they should be OK, but we can’t afford the beds alas.


GW - December 19, 2016

1.5 km is less than I would have expected. I guess it needs to be free of trees and hills on either end.


Michael Carley - December 19, 2016

It’s a bit less than for an A319 which is half as heavy again, so probably about right.


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