skip to main content

Airshow China 2021: China testing two types of indigenous engines for Y-20 transport aircraft

China is testing two types of locally designed engines for the People's Liberation Army Air Force's (PLAAF's) Y-20 Kunpeng strategic transport aircraft, said Tang Changhong, the aircraft's chief designer at the Xian Aircraft Corporation, on 29 September.

Tang, who made the announcement during the Airshow China 2021 defence exhibition held from 28 September to 3 October in Zhuhai, noted that test flights featuring the different engine types are ongoing.

Janes understands that one of the two engine types is the Shenyang WS-20 high-bypass turbofan engine, which has been fitted onto a new variant of the Y-20 aircraft, known as the Y-20B.

Satellite images of the XAC plant in China's Shaanxi Province, captured earlier this year, indicated that the Y-20B variant is under production, after having its maiden flight in late 2020.

Analysis of the satellite imagery suggests that the nacelles of the locally developed WS-20 are wider than those used by the Russian-made Aviadvigatel D-30KP 2-series turbofans that power the standard Y-20A variant. The engine is also shorter, given that they do not extend as far in front of the wing. Moreover, the WS-20 reportedly generates 28,660 lb of thrust (127.5 kN), and is thus more powerful than its Russian counterpart, which generates 26,460 lb of thrust.

It is unclear when serial production of the WS20 engine will begin. However, limited production could start by the mid-2020s.

Janes understands that the second engine type could be the WS-18. This engine is understood to be an improved version of the Russian-made D30KP-2 turbofan engine, which has been associated with other aircraft in the past, including the H-6K bomber, and completed initial flight testing on a KJ-2000 prototype in December 2014. Very few details are known about the performance characteristics of the WS-18 engine.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...