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Y-10

The Shanghai Y-10 was a four engined commercial passenger jet aircraft developed in the 1970s by Shanghai Aircraft Manufacture Factory (now known as Shanghai Aviation Industrial Company, or SAIC). The Y-10 designation stands for Yunshuji ("transport") model 10. The plane carried 178 in high-density, 149 in economy, or 124 in mixed-class. The flight deck had room for five crewmembers: pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, navigator, and radio operator.

After a thaw in relations with the West in 1972, China had acquired a Boeing 707 fleet but decided to forge ahead with its own jetliner that was free of dependence on foreign parts, except for the American engine. The cabin of the Y-10 can be configured into three classes: tourist class (149 seats), mixed class (124 seats) and economic class (178 seats). The flight deck is designed for five-man layout. The maximum takeoff weight of the aircraft is 102,000 kg. The aircraft used Pratt & Whitney JT3D-7 turbofan engines, which were spares belonging to CAAC's small fleet of Boeing 707 aircraft. Shanghai had intended to use a Chinese-built Shanghai WS8 turbofan, but the Pratt & Whitney engine was selected before the WS8 could reach certification.

There persistent suggestions are rumors that the Y-10 was a reverse-engineered design of the Boeing 707 Model 120 with some minor differences, while other sources, the designers and the personnel of Boeing denied that the Y-10 was the copy of its Boeing 707, and claim it was an indigenous design. Often dismissed as a Chinese 707 copy, in reality, this aircraft looks about as much like a 707 as a DC-8 does. The aircraft was entirely designed by Chinese engineers; only the engines are spares from the CAAC 707-3J6 fleet. In dimensions, the aircraft is actually closer to the Boeing 720. The Shanghai Y-10 looked generally like the B-707-320C, except for a few minor issues. For example, the Y-10 did not have the famous Boeing style "eye brow" windows, or the "stinger" style HF radio antenna atop the fin.

The external shape was similar, but so was the IL-62 compared to VC-10, as aircraft design during the 60's period came from the same aerodyamic principles. However, internally the Y-10 was quite different than the B707. Every systems onboard were not the same as that of the B707, and the structure was vastly different. That is why both Boeing and China refer the Y-10 as a different aircraft to the B707.

The development of a large long range airliner in Shanghai was brewed in early 1970s. On August 21, 1970, the National Planning Commissin, and the Defence Industry Leading Group of the Military Commission of CCCPC appoved in principle the "Report on the Transport Trial Production in Shanghai" which was prepared by the Aviation Industry Leading Group. Since then the project was put into the government plan. After some discussions on the conceptual definition, a general design concept was proposed. On June 27, 1973, the State Council and the Military Commission of CCCPC formally approved a report on development of a large airliner which was jointly prepared by Shanghai municipal government and the National Planning Commission. The development of the Y-10 airliner was thus started in Shanghai.

The Y-10 is a large airliner and is the heaviest of the airplanes so far developed in China. The preparation for setting up a design organ in Shanghai was started in September 1970. Both the MAI and the Air Force sent their outstanding designers to the organ which had only 300 people in its early stage and then 800 people when the Aircraft Design Institute was established in 1973. In 1978 the institute was renamed as the Shanghai Aircraft Design and Research Institute. Ma Fengshan was appointed director of the institute.

Due to the close cooperation between the MAI and Shanghai municipality and the hard work of the staff the design drawings of the Y-10 were completed in June 1975. The intense prototype production began immediately in the Shanghai Aircraft Factory and a Y-10 for the static test was made available in September 1976. A full size airframe destructive test was carried out in the Aircraft Structure Strength Research Institute on November 23, 1978. The airframe was broken at predicted place of left wing when the applying load was increased to 100.2 per cent. The test result was in agreement with the theoretical analysis and proved that the aircraft strength was in conformity with the design requirement.

Only two of the Y-10s were built. The Y-10 made it's first flight in 1980 but the only flyable Y-10 made 130 flights before being retired in 1983. Another airframe was used for static testing. The first flight of the Y-10 took place on September 26, 1980, which was flown by flight test captain Wang Jinda and his air crew. To test the adaptability to different air routes and airports a Y-10 made ferry flights to a number of airports in the country. Among them were the airports in Beijing, Hefei, Harbin, Urumqi, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu, Lhasa, etc. A total of 121 flights and 167 flying hours were accumulated. The longest non-stop flight distance was 3,600 km, the longest endurance 4 hours and 49 minutes and the highest airport 3,540 m above the sea level. On January 31, 1984 A Y-10 successfully flew to Lhasa from Chengdu for its first time. It was the first airplane which was made in China and flew over the roof of the world and it also proved the Y-10's adaptability to fly in complicated climate over the plateau.

There were eight breakthroughs in the Y-10 design:

  1. The American Federal Air Regulation was used as a standard and the Soviet regulation only as a reference so that the past traditional way in which only the soviet regulation was used was changed.
  2. A peaky airfoil profile was used in the wing design so that the aircraft had better high speed behavior and the maximum cruise aerodynamic efficiency reached 15.4.
  3. The aircraft structure was designed according to the fail-safe and safe-life concepts and the rules and regulations for the detailed design to prevent the structure from fatigue were made according to the aircraft total life of 130,000 hours or of ten years.
  4. The largest integral wing fuel tank and pressurized cabin were designed and the problems of fuel leakage and air tightness were solved.
  5. A unique control method for control surfaces, in which the control surfaces were brought into motion by tabs, and a general configuration with underwing mounted engine pods were adopted.
  6. The largest full scale simulation tests of control system, hydraulic system, fuel system and electrical network were carried out.
  7. A great number of new materials, new vendor-furnished-equipment and components and new standards were used. A total of 76 new materials were used, which was 18 per cent of all the materials used. 305 new vendor-furnished-equipment and components were 70 per cent of the total and 164 new standards were 17 per cent of the total.
  8. The computer was widely used in the analysis of the general configuration, aerodynamics, stress, structure and system design. More than 50 big application programs were prepared and among them was an optimization program for the general configuration parameters.
Two Y-10 prototypes had been built although the development program was terminated because the reasons of market and cost. China's attempt to build its own indigenous large passenger aircraft ultimately failed. China's domestic airlines refused to buy the plane. The plane never entered commercial production, and the Y-10 program was halted in 1985. The major problem with the Y-10 was its weight, plus with a very small CG shift limit, making it not safe for civil application. It was extremely heavy compared to the Boeing 707, with high fuel consumption and a very limited range. The test models were, reportedly, only able to fly for around half an hour at a time. Precious experience was obtained, which became the technical basis for the later co-production program of the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 airliner between China and the USA. One Y-10 is now in an air force museum, and it was suggested that the Chinese would move it to the aviation museum in Beijing.

Some sources suggest that politics were heavily involved in the project, which was reportedly spearheaded by Wang Hongwen [Wang Hung-wen]. It is claimed that as he, and the Mao era, fell out of favor, so did enthusiasm for the Y-10, which was increasingly seen as a throwback to the days of isolationism.

The Gang of Four is a term used by the post-Mao leadership to denote the four leading radical figures -- Jiang Qing (Mao's fourth wife), Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen -- who played a dominant political role during the Cultural Revolution decade (1966-76) until Mao's death in September 1976. Their "antiparty" deeds are often linked with Lin Biao, an early leader of the Cultural Revolution, who also has been discredited.

The "Shanghai Mafia," had all come to political power as a result of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of 1966-69; the four had enjoyed close access to Chairman Mao and promoted the most radical of the Great Helmsman's policies. Using their control over China's propaganda machinery, the radicals had constantly heated up the political atmosphere, unsparingly urging the masses to attack the "revisionists," the "capitalist readers," and other "ghosts and monsters" who, they said, were hiding in the very nooks and crannies of the Communist Party itself (and who often were the radicals' personal enemies).

Mao's death in September 1976 removed a towering figure from Chinese politics and set off a scramble for succession. The long-expected struggle for power - or at least this momentous phase of it - was waged so quickly that it was over before any outsiders even knew it had begun. Former Minister of Pubic Security Hua Guofeng was quickly confirmed as Party Chairman and Premier. A month after Mao's death, Hua, backed by the PLA, arrested Jiang Qing and other members of the "Gang of Four."

After extensive deliberations, the Chinese Communist Party leadership reinstated Deng Xiaoping to all of his previous posts at the 11th Party Congress in August 1977. Deng then led the effort to place government control in the hands of veteran party officials opposed to the radical excesses of the previous two decades. The new, pragmatic leadership emphasized economic development and renounced mass political movements. At the pivotal December 1978 Third Plenum (of the 11th Party Congress Central Committee), the leadership adopted economic reform policies aimed at expanding rural income and incentives, encouraging experiments in enterprise autonomy, reducing central planning, and attracting direct foreign investment into China.

Afterwards, Shanghai in many respects was kept on a tighter leash by Beijing than many other parts of China, because the power base of the Gang of Four and the whole Maoist clique that attempted to usurp power was Shanghai. Zhang Chunqiao was one of the Four, and Wang Hongwen, and all three were from Shanghai, and Jiang Qing herself had been an actress in Shanghai. So Shanghai for a long, long time was viewed with a certain distrust, and there were a lot of hangovers and holdovers from the earlier period.

After the conclusion of the Y-10 program in 1985, the Ministry of Aviation devised a 'three-step take-off plan', from the MD-90 assembly MD-90 to jointly design and manufacturing the AE-100 with Airbus to the ultimate goal of self-design and building a 180-seater plane by 2010. One by one each of these objectives fell by the wayside. The termination of the MD-90 programme and the AE-100 program were perceived outside China to 'deal a severe blow to China's nascent aviation industry' and 'throw into doubt its plans to become a substantial aircraft manufacturer'. Many people in the Chinese aircraft industry felt that it had been let down not only by Boeing and Airbus, but also by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), which had refused to order either the MD-90 or the planned AE-100.




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