China's state-owned Shaanxi Aircraft has frozen the design of its Y9 transport, but has yet to start building the aircraft due to a lack of orders.

A source familiar with the programme says the manufacturer is speaking to the Chinese military about becoming launch customer for the type, which is touted as Beijing's equivalent to the Lockheed Martin C-130J.

The first flight of a Y9 transport could be carried out at the end of this year or in 2011, says the source, who adds that the event's timing could depend on when a buyer is secured. Shaanxi had originally hoped to fly the type as long ago as 2006.

© Flight International

Powered by four Wojiang WJ turboprop engines, the new model is similar in size to Shaanxi's Y8, but has more advanced equipment and avionics. The company continues to make military versions of the Y8, but has made no commercial sales of the type recently.

Shaanxi in 2008 shelved plans to offer a commercial Y8-F600 derivative of its new aircraft, and the source says there are no plans to revive the programme.

Source: Flight International