A Chinese Xian Y-20 airlifter configured for flight tests was spotted in flight with a CJ1000A turbofan, developed in China to equip COMAC’s C919 commercial jet.
This was also the first time that Xian’s four-engine aircraft was seen being used as an aerial engine test platform.
The new engine, developed by the Aero Engine Corporation of China (AECC), appears installed on the pylon of station No. 2 on the left wing of the Y-20, which is the largest aircraft developed in China to date.
First fired up in May 2018, the CJ1000A high-bypass turbofan is expected to deliver around 25,000 pounds of thrust. The indigenous engine is designed in China as an alternative to the CFM International Leap-1C, supplied by CFM and which is currently used in the C919.
The development of the CJ1000A is a priority for the Chinese aeronautical industry, which seeks to reduce – and if possible completely eliminate – its dependence on Western suppliers.
Unlike Chinese-made military aircraft, which have a high level of locally produced components, the country’s commercial aviation sector still relies heavily on imported items, particularly engines and avionics systems.
The CJ1000A program has faced difficulties and even accusations of industrial espionage. The United States claims that Chinese companies tried to obtain technical information from Western suppliers to accelerate the development of the turbofan, which the country’s government denies.
The European planemaker even has an assembly line in Tinjian and has just delivered the first A321neo finished in China – the C919 is a direct rival of the A320neo family and the 737 MAX.