The story of the Chinese-built Xian Y-7 passenger turboprop based on the popular Russian Antonov An-24. Before we look at the Xian-7, it is best to understand why the Chinese would want to build the Antonov An-24 under license.

Designed in 1957 by the Antonov Design Bureau and manufactured in Kyiv, Ulan Ude, and Irkutsk, the An-24 first flew in 1959. The plane was built to replace the piston-powered Ilyushin Il-14 transport on short to medium-haul routes. With a rugged airframe and high-wing design, the An-24 was especially suited for use at remote airfields with limited ground support.

China builds the An-24 under license

Early in the An-24s production, China became interested in the plane, imported several, and was impressed by its capabilities. Rather than continuing to buy aircraft from the Soviet Union, China negotiated a contract to build the An-24 under license.

Production of the plane began at the Xian aircraft factory in central China in 1966, with the first Chinese built An-24 making its maiden flight on December 25, 1970. Because of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, run by Mao Zedong, progress was slow. Now calling the plane the Xian Y-7 in 1982, the Dongan WJ-5 turboprop engine was chosen as the power plant for the aircraft. The first production Xian Y-7 flew in February 1984, some 18 years after being licensed to build it.

Many of the first Xian Y-7s built were delivered to the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) which used them mainly as transports. Because of this, Xian made a derivative of the original, incorporating a cargo ramp door.

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Xian Y-7 cockpit

Variants of the Xian Y-7

Over the years, many variants of the Xian Y-7 were built, including the following models:

Xian Y-7E

A version with more powerful engines.

Xian Y-7G

A military variant built for the PLAAF.

Xian Y-7H

A reverse-engineered An-26 with a rear cargo loading ramp for the PLAAF.

Xian Y7H-500

A civil variant of the Y-7H.

Xian Y-7-100

Developed with the Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company, the Xian Y-7-100 was an improved version of the plane with a new cockpit, avionics, and cabin configured for 52 passengers.

Xian Y-7-100C1

A five-crew variant with upgraded equipment.

Xian Y-7-100C2

Five-crew variant with newer equipment.

Xian Y-7-100C3

Five-crew variant with newer equipment.

Xian Y-7-200

Fitted with new avionics and no winglets.

Xian Y-7-200A

Powered by two Canadian Pratt & Whitney PW127C turboprop engines.

Xian Y-7-200B

A stretched version of the aircraft built for Chinese civil aviation.

Xian HYJ-7

A training aircraft for the H-6 heavy bombers fitted with a stabilized HM-1A bombsight, bomb-aiming radar, and a combined navigation system.

Xian MA60

A version of the plane built to attract overseas buyers.

Xian JZY-01 / Y-7 AWACS

An aircraft carrier-based early warning plane.

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A Xian Ma-60 on the runway

Specification and general characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Capacity: 52 passengers
  • Length: 79 feet 5 inches
  • Wingspan: 297 feet 4 inches
  • Height: 28,061 feet 0 inches
  • Wing area: 810.1 square feet
  • Empty weight: 133,043 lbs
  • Max zero-fuel weight: 43,332 lbs
  • Max takeoff weight: 48,061 lbs
  • Max landing weight: 48,061 lbs
  • Powerplant: 2 × Dongan WJ-5A turboprop engines, 2,400 shp each
  • Propellors: 4-bladed constant-speed feathering propellor with 12 feet 10 inches diameter


  • Maximum speed: 313 mph
  • Cruise speed: 263 mph at 19,685 feet
  • Range: 570 miles 1,232 miles with max fuel
  • Service ceiling: 28,710 feet
  • Take-off run: 2,100 feet at MTOW
  • Landing run: 2,116 feet at MLW


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