The Xian MA60 – The Little Known Chinese Turboprop

The Xian MA60 is a little known Chinese built twin-engine turboprop aircraft designed for domestic and short-haul routes. Designed and manufactured by the Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation (XAIC) of China, the Xian MA60 is a larger version of the Xian Y7-200A that was based on the hugely popular Soviet-designed Antonov An-24.

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The MA60 is a Chinese built 60 seat turboprop. Photo: Aeroprints via Wikimedia Commons

Like the AN-24, the Xian MA60 can operate in harsh conditions where there is limited ground support and can perform short take-offs and landings (STOL). The aircraft first received its airworthiness certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China in June 2000 but never applied for FAA or European (EASA) certification. Because of this, you only ever see the Xian MA60 operating in Asia, Africa, and South America.

Five variants of the Xian MA60 were built

Five different types of the Xian MA60 were made the MA60-MPA Fearless Albatross, MA60-100, MA40, MA60H-500, and the Xian MA600. The MA60-100 was an advanced lighter version of the aircraft with better performance while the MA60-MPA Fearless Albatross was a maritime patrol vessel for the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

The MA-40, as the name suggests, was a 40 seat passenger model while the MA60H-500 entered service and a military freighter. Laid out in a four-seat configuration, the MA60 can seat up to 60 passengers and has a regulated air-conditioning system to maintain a comfortable temperature in the cabin.

The MA60 has a maximum range of 994 miles

The Xian MA60 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127J turboprop engines, which produce 2,051kW of output power each. The aircraft also feature Hamilton Sundstrand’s four-bladed composite propellers and are equipped with retractable tricycle type landing gear with a steerable nose, disk brakes, and tubeless tires.

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The MA60 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127J turboprop engines, Photo: Aeroprints via Wikimedia Commons

The MA60 has a maximum speed of 514km/h (319mph) and a cruising speed of 430km/h (267mph). It also has a maximum range of 1,600 kilometers (994 miles) and a ceiling height of 7,620 meters (25,000 feet). The plane is also equipped with a de-icing system that enables it to operate under complicated icing conditions.

Only having Chinese certification, orders were limited to non-European and American airlines and militaries. Despite this, Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation received 250 orders. Customers for the Xian MA60 in Asia include Joy Air with ten planes and former Chinese Ying’ an Airlines and Zest Airlines of the Philippines, who had ten aircraft each. Laos’s Lao Skyway and Nepal Airlines each have two units, which are still in service.

It is prevalent in Africa

The Xian MA60 proved to be successful in Africa. This popularity is due to its ability to operate on unprepared airstrips, grass, and stone runways. Currently, it in service with Camair-Co, Air Congo, Air Zimbabwe, and Eritrea’s Massawa Airways.

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Zest Air is now Philippines AirAsia. Photo: Aeroprints via Wikimedia Commons.

Military customers include the Ghana Air Force, Zambian Air Force, Sri Lankan Air Force, and Bolivian Air Force. Sadly the MA60 has suffered seven notable fatal crashes since 2009 despite its limited number of deliveries. Therefore there are several questions over the safety of this aircraft. 

Have you ever flown on an MA60? If so, let us know what you think of the plane in the comments.

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