"In the world arena Antonov has a strong capability and we are now meeting with experts at Antonov to evaluate the Y8" on aspects such as the "aerodynamics, structure and relevant systems and have asked for help to make advances, modifications and improvements," says AVIC II president Zhang Hongbiao.
The Y8-F600 is a derivative of the Y8-F400 and the Y8-F100. The original Y8 was derived from the Antonov An-12.
"Our ultimate goal is to have an advanced state-of-the art" aircraft, says Zhang, adding that AVIC II prefers to "be a little bit slow" if it means the company ends up with the best aircraft.
AVIC II subsidiary Shaanxi Aircraft makes the Y-8F600 and Shaanxi's VP Liu Bin told Flight International last November that the company planned to roll-out the aircraft and complete flight testing in time to have it certificated in China by the end of 2007.
However, Zhang declines to give the new time-frame for roll-out saying it depends on the outcome of the current evaluation. "If we can be successful with the Y8" it will last 30 to 50 years and there will be an opportunity to sell it in overseas markets such as Africa and South America, he says.
The Y8-F600 differs from the Y8-F400 in having a modern two-pilot cockpit against the Y8-F400's three-crew cockpit. The Y8-F400 was powered by the indigenous WJ6 engines whereas the new version will have Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150Bs "but in the meantime we are developing our own turboprop engine...design of the core engine is almost complete", Zhang says.
When asked why AVIC II wants to develop its own engine for the Y8, Zhang says for a nation to develop its aviation manufacturing industry without developing its engine capabilities "is not a complete development or perfect solution".