skip to main content

Chinese WS20 engine likely entering operational service

China's project goals for the domestically developed WS20 engine include greater thrust, reliability, and fuel efficiency compared with Russian engines currently powering the XAC Y-20A transport aircraft. (Janes)

China's domestically developed Shenyang WS20 engine for the Xi'an Aircraft Corporation (XAC) Y-20 transport aircraft appears to be ready for operational service.

Images on Chinese social media in mid-March show an airborne Y-20 equipped with four WS20 two-shaft high bypass ratio turbofan engines. The aircraft, which was painted in the service colours of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), was photographed flying over Kaifeng city in China's Henan province. Previous examples of the new variant – commonly referred to as the Y-20B – have appeared in a primer yellow colour, indicating their testing status.

According to Janes data, Kaifeng Air Base, which is located south of the city, hosts the PLA Air Force's (PLAAF's) 37th Air Regiment. The unit operates a mix of Y-8C and Y-20A transport aircraft. The new aircraft did not appear to have a service number, which is a standard of operational aircraft. However, the aircraft was photographed with a low-observable version of the Chinese national emblem, indicating ownership by the PLA.

According to Janes data, the WS20 was being developed to have an increased level of efficiency and thrust compared with the existing Russian-made Aviadvigatel D-30KP 2-series turbofans that power the Y-20A aircraft. Janes assesses that if the project's aims are achieved, the WS20 will likely increase the load-carrying capacity and range of the Y-20.

The WS20 engine reportedly generates 28,660 lb (127.5 kN) of thrust. The engine differs in dimensions from the D-30KP 2-series. The engine inlet of the WS20 is wider than the D-30KP 2-series, and the engine itself is shorter.

According to Janes

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...