|Y-20 flight on Airshow China 2016|
|Manufacturer||Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation|
|First flight||26 January 2013|
|Introduction||6 July 2016|
|Status||In service, in production|
|Primary user||PLA Air Force|
|Number built||8 prototypes
40+ initial production aircraft
The Xi'an Y-20 (Chinese: 运-20; pinyin: Yùn-20; literally: 'transport-20') is a large military transport aircraft. The project is being developed by Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation and was officially launched in 2006. The official codename of the aircraft is Kunpeng (Chinese: 鲲鹏), after the mythical bird that can fly for thousands of miles described in the ancient Chinese Taoist classic Zhuangzi. However, within the Chinese aviation industry itself, the aircraft is more commonly known by its nickname Chubby Girl (Chinese: 胖妞), because its wide fuselage in comparison to other Chinese aircraft previously developed in China.
Development and Cyber Espionage
The aircraft was primarily designed and developed in China under Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation. Certain parts of the wing such as the triple-slotted trailing-edge flaps were developed by the Ukrainian Antonov Design Bureau.
American sources claim significant quantities of American intellectual property were stolen to support development of the aircraft, through cyber crimes executed by PLA soldiers coordinating with a Chinese expat working in the Canadian aerospace industry. John P. Carlin, a former U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice National Security Division detailed the theft in his 2018 book Dawn of the Code War. PLA military hackers collaborated with a Chinese businessman named Su Bin, a 50-year-old multimillionaire living in Vancouver who ran the local office of the aviation company Lode-Tech. Su used his aviation industry knowledge to identify documents for the hackers to steal from Boeing, with file names such as C17Hangar Requirements 112399.pdf and Critical Safety Item(CSI) Report_Sep2006.pdf. Carlin wrote that the hackers claimed to have stolen 630,000 files related to the C-17, or about 65 gigabytes of data in total, which was exfiltrated from Boeing servers and moved on a circuitous route until arriving in Hong Kong and Macau. These files were then allegedly moved onto hard drives, which were then physically transported to mainland China by Chinese intelligence officers.
Canadian court records identified those responsible for the hacking as Chinese military officers, and included several photographs of the men. Canadian police arrested Su Bin on June 28, 2014 on charges of theft, and he was sentenced to 46 months in prison after pleading guilty in US court in 2016. When the Y-20 was first displayed publicly at the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in 2014, spectators "noted how similar [the C-17 and Y-20] looked, right down to the design of their tail fins." 
The Y-20 uses components made of composite materials. The composites are produced in China, whereas in the past they had to be imported. The Y-20's cabin incorporates flame-retardant composites developed by the 703 Institute of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). The 703 Institute was created in March 2009 with development taking three years. The performance of the composites is reportedly comparable to those that fulfill FAR Part 25.835. The 703 Institute achieved another milestone by establishing a comprehensive Chinese evaluation and certification system for aircraft composite materials based on international standards.
The Y-20 is the first cargo aircraft to use 3D printing technology to speed up its development and to lower its manufacturing cost. Model-based definition (MBD) is also used, and it's the third aircraft to utilize MBD technology in the world, after Airbus A380 (2000) and Boeing 787 (2005). A project team to implement MBD for Y-20 program was formally formed in October 2009, and after the initial success in application on the main landing gear, MBD application was expanded to the entire aircraft and became mandatory for all contractors and sub contractors of the Y-20 program. The implementation of MBD was initially met with strong resistance, with only a third of suppliers agreeing to implement MBD. However, the general designer of Y-20 declared that those who refused to implement MBD will be banned from participating in the Y-20 program, thus forcing everyone to comply, resulting in increases in productivity. The implementation of MBD greatly shortened the time required, for example, without MBD, installation of wings takes a month or two, but with MBD adopted, the time is drastically shortened to just a few hours, and in general, the design work reduced by 40%, preparation for production reduced by 75%, and manufacturing cycle reduced by 30%.
In addition to 3D printing, Y-20 is also the first aircraft in China adopting associative design technology (ADT) in its development. Headed by the deputy general designer of structural design, Mr. Feng Jun (冯军), the initial attempt to implement ADT actually failed after two months spent on application on the nose section. It was only after the second attempt that took another three months on the application on wings did ADT became successful. The adaptation of ADT greatly shortened the development time by at least eight months, and modification of wing design that previously took a week is shortened to half a day.
Cargo is loaded through a large aft ramp that accommodates rolling stock. The Y-20 incorporates a shoulder wing, T-tail, rear cargo-loading assembly and heavy-duty retractable landing gear, consists of three rows, with a pair of wheels for each row, totaling six wheels for each side. The structural test was completed in 194 days as opposed to the 300 days originally planned, thanks to the successful development and application of an automated structural strength analysis system. In comparison, similar work for Xian JH-7 took a year. According to the deputy general designer, the shortest take-off distance of Y-20 is 600 to 700 meters. Y-20 incorporates a total of four LCD EFIS, and the development of EFIS for Y-20 utilizes virtual reality via helmet mounted display. Eight types of different relays used on Y-20 are developed by Guilin Aerospace Co., Ltd. a wholly own subsidiary of China Tri-River Aerospace Group Co., Ltd.(中国三江航天集团), which is also known as the 9th Academy of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).
It was reported that the Y-20 started ground testing from December 2012, including runway taxi tests. The aircraft made its maiden flight lasting one hour on January 26, 2013. During landing in first flight, it was reported that the Y-20 prototype bounced once before finally settling on runway due to high landing speed. In December 2013, a new Y-20 prototype took to the sky.
On 6 February 2016 the Y-20 was flown for the first time and pictures of the fifth prototype (serial number 788) in flight appeared on Chinese military webpages. Other known prototypes carry identification numbers 781, 783 and 785. On 27 January 2016, former Chinese test pilot Xu Yongling had reported in a Xinhua article that Chinese aviation industry officials had stated that the Y-20 "completed development" at the end of 2015. In June 2016, the first two Xian Y-20 aircraft were delivered to the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) 
The Y-20 is powered by four 12-ton thrust Soloviev D-30KP-2 engines, and all early production units are likely to be similarly powered. The Chinese intend to replace the D-30 with the 14-ton thrust WS-20, which is required for the Y-20 to achieve its maximum cargo capacity of 66 tons. The Shenyang WS-20 is derived from the core of the Shenyang WS-10A, an indigenous Chinese turbofan engine for fighter aircraft.
In 2013, Shenyang Engine Design and Research Institute was reportedly developing the SF-A, a 28700-pound thrust engine, for the Y-20 and the Comac C919. The SF-A is derived from the core of the WS-15. Compared to the WS-20, the SF-A is a conservative design that does not seek to match the technology of more modern engines.
In late 2017, it is revealed that domestic Chinese turbofan WS-18 has begun flight test on Y-20. Compared with Russian Soloviev D-30, WS-18 is 300 kg lighter, weighing at 2000 kg; with thrust increased from 12.5 ton of D-30 to 13.2 ton; and fuel consumption of WS-18 is also reduced in comparison to D-30, and the mean time between overhaul of WS-18 is 3000 hours.However, because the increase in thrust is not significant in comparison to D-30, WS-18 is likely to be a stopgap measure before WS-20 is ready. In February 2019, an internet photo revealed a Y-20 prototype with serial number 783 has been equipped with a single WS-20 for testing.
In 2014 the PLA National Defence University's Center for Economic Research recommended the purchase of up to 400 Y-20s, comparing the PLAAF's needs with the existing airlifter fleets of the United States and Russia. In June 2016 Jane's reported that up to 1,000 Y-20s are being requested by the Chinese military.
On 6 July 2016 the first serial Y-20 (serial number 11051) was handed over to the PLAAF in a ceremony. The second aircraft numbered 11052 followed soon after - it is assigned to the 12th Regiment of the 4th Transport Division at Qionglai, Chengdu.
Starting November 2018 there were rumors about an aerial refueling variant of the Y-20. It is very appreciated for PLAAF because the largest domestically-made aerial refueling aircraft is HY(Hong You, meaning "Bomber/Fuel Tanker")-6, whose capacity is limited.
- At least two aircraft stationed at Qionglai Air Base since July 2016. Commercial satellite imagery captured on 9 December 2017 suggests that at least three more Xian Aircraft Corporation Y-20 Kunpeng transport aircraft have entered service with China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). In these images there are a total of 5 Xi'an Y-20's lined up at Qionglai Air Base near Chengdu in China's southwestern Sichuan Province.
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Data from
- Crew: 3
- Capacity: 66,000 kg (145,505 lb)
- Length: 47 m (154 ft 2 in) 
- Wingspan: 45 m (147 ft 8 in) 
- Empty weight: 100,000 kg (220,462 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 220,000 kg (485,017 lb)
- Powerplant: 4 × Soloviev D-30KP-2 (WS-20 planned) turbofan engines
- Maximum speed: Mach 0.75
- Range: 4,500 km (2,800 mi, 2,400 nmi) with max payload
- 7,800 km (4,847 mi) with 40,000 kg (88,185 lb)
- 10,000 km (6,214 mi)+ with paratroops.
- Service ceiling: 13,000 m (43,000 ft)
- Wing loading: 710 kg/m2 (150 lb/sq ft)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Xian Y-20.|
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
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