Xian Aircraft is making major changes to the design of its latest turboprop, which had been dubbed the MA60 but will now be called the MA600.

The 48- to 60-seater is an updated version of the Y-7, itself a development of the Antonov An-24. Originally, it was to have its main passenger door towards the rear, but the revamped MA600's door is near the front instead, says a source at Xian Aircraft.

The manufacturer made the change after its customers in Zambia said they were used to entering aircraft at the front rather than the rear, says the source.

Xian Aircraft has sold several MA60s to the Zambian air force. Other changes include a passenger door that incorporates stairs rather than having them as a separate attachment.

 Zambia Xian MA60

The MA600 will also have the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics system, whereas the MA60 has Pro Line 2.

The source, who disclosed the redesignation to MA600, says the first example is now being assembled and will be rolled out in time for first flight towards the year-end. Xian originally planned to complete the aircraft in time for first deliveries in the first half of this year, but the source says it will now be in 2009.

Industry sources say Xian is naming the new model the MA600 to differentiate it from the MA60. The name is also more in keeping with the MA700, an all-new 70-seat turboprop being developed by Xian.


Source: Flight International