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Versatile Core Family

Development of aero-engines remains in a bottleneck in Chinas aviation industry. China does not have the technology and the traditional way of copying technology from joint ventures is not working out. The versatile core engine is jointly developed by AVIC Gas Turbine Establishment and AVIC Air Power Machinery Research Institute. It was initially developed to create a turbofan member of the common core family for the growing Chinas regional jet and medium/large helicopter markets.

An aircraft gas turbine is divided into two sections: the cold Section & hot section. The Cold section includes the inlet air duct, the compressor and the diffuser. The Hot section includes the combustion chamber, the turbine and the exhaust. Hot-section durability problems appear in a variety of forms ranging from corrosion, erosion, and distortion to the occurrence of fatigue cracking. A modest change in the shape of an airfoil due to erosion or distortion can lead to the deterioration of the airfoil's performance. Such changes in the airfoil's shape or other critical components must be known as accurately as possible in order to design a propulsion system with long-term efficiency.

The development of aero-engine technology makes it necessary to study the versatile core engine technology. Versatile core engine technology not only increases the number of the common parts of the developed engines,reduces its research and development periods, but also improves the performances of all the types of the developed engines. Aero-engines of different kinds with a certain power/thrust class could be derived from the corresponding versatile core engine with a certain mass flow amount. The design of versatile core engine must make a compromise between strength and aero-dynamic performance, and its components must be able to work effectively and stably within a wide range of operation; moreover,the versatile core engine should allow some small changes in the follow-up development.

Three engines form the Versatile Core Family.

  1. Minjiang, the turbofan member, was announced in 2008, at which time its turbo machinery was in rig testing and that development would need at least five years, plus time for certification. At the 2008 Zhuhai show a mockup of the 3,200 kg thrust 'Minjiang' high-bypass turbofan, with potential application for business jets or UAVs, was displayed for the first time. It was reported to be a joint program of the GTE and the Shenyang Liming Aeroengine Company. By 2016 Minjiangs thrust was rated at 9,900 lbst, up from 7,100-8,800 lbst when the engine was first announced. It was initially called a business jet turbofan in 2008 but was later used, presumably as a demonstrator engine, to power a UAV. China was still many years from building its own business jet. Minjiang (medium thrust high B/P ratio, domestic CF34) and Yellow River (high thrust high B/P ratio for Y20) are named after rivers there are high by pass ratio engines. The WS-12C is likely derived from the 6,400lb-thrust Minjiang turbofan, revealed as a product of the Chengdu Aero-Engine Group at the 2008 Zhuhai air show.
  2. The WZ20 turboshaft member of the Versatile Core Family is the powerplant for the large, two-engine Russo-Chinese helicopter known as the Advanced Heavy Lifter (ALH). The WZ-20 generates 6,000 kW, but rotary-wing specialist Avicopter stated manufacturers heavy helicopter needed an engine in the 7,000 kW class. Avicopter has also looked at the possibility of importing 8,000 kW engines for the ALH. Avicopter chose the WZ-20 over the Russian D-215V as the powerplant for the ALH
  3. The WJ16 is the Versatile Core Familys turboprop, intended for the MA700 regional airliner. The answer previously seemed to be the WJ-10. The WJ-16 would also power the four-engine Dragon 600 amphibian. The power of the WJ-16, 3,782 kW, more or less matches what industry officials say the MA700 needed.

Minjiang is leading the Versatile Core Family development program, with a design freeze due in 2016,compared with 2015 for the WJ-16 and WZ-20. Entry into service is due in 2018 for the Minjiang and WJ-16 and in 2021 for the WZ-20. The Versatile Core that is the heart of all three was developed from around 2002 to 2011.

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