The Xian Y-20 is a large military transport aircraft. The project is being developed by Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation and was officially launched in 2006. The official codename of the aircraft is Kunpeng . after the mythical bird of ancient China that can fly for thousands of kilometres. However, within the Chinese aviation industry itself, the aircraft is more commonly known by its nickname Chubby Girl , because its wide fuselage in comparison to other Chinese aircraft previously developed in China.
It was reported that the Y-20 started ground testing from December 2012, including runway taxi tests. The aircraft made its maiden flight lasting one hour on January 26, 2013. During landing in first flight, it was reported that the Y-20 prototype bounced once before finally settling on runway due to high landing speed. In December 2013, a new Y-20 prototype took to the sky.
On 6 February 2016 the Y-20 was flown for the first time and pictures of the fifth prototype (bort number 788) in flight appeared on Chinese military webpages. Other known prototypes carry identification numbers 781, 783 and 785. On 27 January 2016, former Chinese test pilot Xu Yongling had reported in a Xinhua article that Chinese aviation industry officials had stated that the Y-20 “completed development” at the end of 2015. Xu, who participated in the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation J-10 fighter test programme, suggested that the Y-20 could enter service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)in 2016.
In 2014 the PLA National Defence University’s Center for Economic Research recommended the purchase of up to 400 Y-20s, comparing the PLAAF’s needs with the existing airlifter fleets of the United States and Russia. In June 2016 Jane’s reported that up to 1,000 Y-20s are being requested by the Chinese military.
On 6 July 2016 the first serial Y-20 (seriall number 11051)was handed over to the PLAAF in a ceremony.second aircraft serialled 11052 to follow soon – it is assigned to the 12th Regiment of the 4th Transport Division at Qionglai, Chengdu.