China Aviation Industry (AVIC) II has delayed the launch of its new turbo-prop air freighter, the Y8-F600, because it wants help from Russia-based collaborator Antonov Aeronautical Scientific-Technical Complex (ASTC) to further improve the aircraft.
AVIC II president Zhang Hongbiao said his company needed technical support to make advances, modifications and improvements on the new plane's aerodynamics, structure and relevant systems.
The Y8-F600 is the latest derivative of the Y8, reverse engineered by the Chinese from the '60s-era Antonov An-12. It is to be a joint venture between the Chinese, Russia's Antonov, and Pratt & Whitney, Canada.
The Y8-F600 has redesigned fuselage, western avionics, PW150B turboprop engines with R-408 propeller systems, and a two-seater glass cockpit.
"We want an advanced, state-of-the art aircraft," Zhang stated, even if it means to "be a little bit slow", as long as the company ends up with the best aircraft. AVIC II subsidiary Shaanxi Aircraft makes the Y-8F600.
It had originally planned to roll out the aircraft and complete flight-testing to have it certificated in China by the end of 2007. Now, the new schedule depends on the Russian collaborators.
Zhang is unfazed by the delay. He says a successful new Y8 model will last 30 to 50 years in the freighter market, and can be sold in overseas markets like Africa and South America.
The Y8-F600, predecessor, the Y8-F400, had a three-crew cockpit and was powered by indigenous WJ6 engines. But AVIC II is developing its own advanced turboprop engine. "The design of the core engine is almost complete," Zhang says.
When asked why AVIC II wants to develop its own engine for the Y8, Zhang says for a nation to develop its aviation manufacturing industry without developing its engine capabilities "is neither complete development nor a proper solution".