China's Y-20 large transport aircraft gets high bypass ratio engine, report shows
Published: Apr 11, 2023 11:34 PM
A Y-20 transport aircraft releases decoy flares. Photo:China Military

A Y-20 transport aircraft releases decoy flares. Photo:China Military


China's Y-20 large transport aircraft has been enhanced by a new type of engine with a high bypass ratio, official media reports showed, with analysts saying on Tuesday that the improvement will give the domestically developed cargo plane a higher takeoff weight and a longer range.

A Y-20 seen this month was different from those seen in the past, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Monday, showing two Y-20s side by side as they carried out an airdrop mission.

While the CCTV report did not elaborate on the difference, observers pointed out that the appearance of the engine the new Y-20 has is significantly different from that of the old one. The new engine seems shorter but has a larger diameter, meaning it has a larger bypass ratio.

This is the first time a Y-20 has been seen equipped with this type of engine in an official media report.

Generally speaking, an engine with a high bypass ratio is larger but provides higher thrust and consumes less fuel. This will give the aircraft a higher takeoff weight and a longer range, and enable it to take off and land on shorter runways, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Thanks to these characteristics, engines with high bypass ratios are popular among operators of large aircraft, including strategic transport aircraft and passenger planes, the expert said.

It has been expected for years that the Y-20 would eventually get an engine with high bypass ratio to meet its true potential.

Chinese military aviation expert Song Xinzhi said in a CCTV program in 2020 that China had reportedly been developing the WS-20 engine to replace the Russian D-30 engine currently used on the Y-20.

Tang Changhong, chief designer of the Y-20, said at a press conference at the Airshow China 2021 held in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province that the aircraft would be equipped with two types of domestically developed engines, both of which were undergoing flight tests that were progressing smoothly as of that time.

The successful development of the new engine would also mark a breakthrough in China's aero engine sector, observers said.

Experts expect the new engine to be installed on other large aircraft, including the YU-20 aerial tanker and other special mission aircraft.