China has flown its Xian Y-20 airlifter for the first time,reports Chinese state news agency Xinhua. Footage of the first flight was alsoshown on Chinese state television.
“The successful maiden flight of Yun-20 is significant inpromoting China’s economic and national defense buildup as well as betteringits emergency handling such as disaster relief and humanitarian aid,” Xinhuasays. “The giant aircraft will continue to undergo experiments and test flightsas scheduled.”
Apparently, this first example is powered by Russian-built SolovievD-30 low-bypass turbofans, versions of which power the Tupolev Tu-154M airliner,Ilyushin Il-76 airlifter and Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound. (Incidentally, this explainswhy a lot of Soviet airliners were so horrendously fuel inefficient–low-bypassturbofans are great for supersonic fighter applications, but not so good fortransport planes.)
A production variant of the Y-20 could (and probably should)use a higher bypass ratio engine. Potential candidates include China’s developmentalWS-18 and WS-20 engines and possibly a military variant of the CJ-1000A. TheCJ-1000A is an indigenous power plant for the Comac C919 airliner that’s beingdeveloped by AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engines.
For more on the Y-20, check out this feature article by mycolleague and good friend Greg Waldron, who is based in Singapore. He’s beentracking this project for quite sometime now.
Here is the CCTV TV report of the event.