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Y-20 / Y-XX - Engines

As initially seen, the aircraft appears to be powered by four WS-18 low-by-pass engines [the Chinese version of the Russian Soloviev D-30KU], each with a power of 21,000 pounds of thrust. Ultimately it is expected that the Y-20 would be powered by the WS-10 [the long delayed Chinese copy of the 1960s vintage American GE F101 engine] with a power of 27,600 pounds of thrust each, or more likely the highly fuel efficient CFM LEAP-X high-bypass engine with a power of about 30,000 pounds of thrust each. The narrow dimensions of the engine nacelles, indicative of a low-by-pass engine, are in rather striking contract to the pleasingly plump engine nacelles of the American C-17, which is powered by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW- 100 turbofan engines, each with a thrust of 40,900 pounds.

Fitted with high-lift devices on the wing's leading and trailing edges, the aircraft would be capable of taking off from relatively short and unpaved runways, giving access to temporary airfields near the battlefield. It is unclear whether the aircraft will have an IFR probe installed or not. The four engines that would power the Y-XX remain a focus of speculation. While the project is planned with Ukrainian development assistance, it is unclear whether China would use home-made engines or get the engine production line from Ukraine. The prototypes and the initial production run may be powered by the WS-18 turbofans (Russian D-30KP-2), while later production aircraft would be powered by a High Bypass Ratio [HBR] turbofan derived from the modified FWS-10 by 603 Institute.

Y-20Bill Sweetman and Bradley Perrett noted in February 2013 that "The prototype that took to the air on Jan. 26 mates what looks like a modern airframe with obsolete 1960s-technology engines. Together, they probably represent no more than a serviceable design standard, offering only modest advances in capability over the Ilyushin Il-76 that China already operates.... At least 20% more thrust will probably be available from the Chinese turbofan that Avic Engine is developing at Shenyang, possibly under the name WS-20. It is believed to be a derivative of the WS-10 Taihang fighter engine.... A more distant prospect is the CJ-1000, which Avic Commercial Aircraft Engines is developing for the Comac C919 airliner as an alternative to the CFM Leap-1 and with the aim of matching the performance of that Franco-U.S. engine. ... With abundant thrust and, it is hoped, world-class efficiency, the CJ-1000 would transform the performance of the Y-20."

In July 2008 CFM International launched LEAP-X, an entirely new baseline turbofan engine to power future replacements for current narrow-body aircraft. CFM International (CFM) is a 50/50 joint venture between Snecma (SAFRAN Group) and General Electric Company. LEAP-X1C engine will be assembled in China. LEAP-X thrust baseline for the C919 starts at 30,000 lbs - with much more growth potential. The first full demonstrator engine was scheduled to run in 2012, and LEAP-X could be certified by 2016. The LEAP-X1C-powered C919 is the beginning of a new chapter in the collaboration between CFM, the Chinese aviation industry and Chinese airline customers - a relationship that goes back more than 25 years. as of 2010 there were more than 2,300 CFM56 engines in service or on order with Chinese airlines, representing more than 10 percent of CFM's commercial fleet.

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