China's aircraft engine history is full of failures !! !!

Discussion in 'China' started by mattster, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    Guys on this forum, we Indians have debated about the LCA and Kaveri issues a lot on this forum. In many cases, people have been very critical about these 2 labs (ARDE and ADA) understandably because of all the delays.

    But sometimes its always good to do a sanity check with another country that is tryng to develop an indigineous fighter aircraft industry. In this case, I will use China as the other country, given that not only did they have a much longer head start on India, but also have a lot more resources.

    Also most chinese on this forum and elsewhere, never stop reminding me about how they are so much more efficient and smarter when compared to our slow coach Indian system.

    So I took a peek at this Wikipedia link on the list of Chinese combat aircraft engine development programs. DFI members - Please kindly take a look for yourself. You can come to your own conclusions, but here are mine.

    Here is the Link:
    List of Chinese aircraft engines - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    (Note - I am just trying to make an honest assessment here....not trying to be bombastic or putting down Chinese engineers)

    It looks like the Chinese despite trying to copy virtually every Russian, British and even some Pratt & Whitney engines over maybe 50 years or more have had very limited success. The word "cancelled" keep coming up in the spread-sheet over and over again. "Cancelled" as we all know is a nice politically correct way of saying "Failed".

    The other astonishing fact is that China has had so many engine projects by multiple companies and even today they are still trying to get the WS-13 engine output up. They are now at a stage where they are finally starting to get there but it took them almost 40 years with all that TOT and "manufacturing under license" that they have done for years.

    I understand that aircraft engine technology is a very complex field that only the Russians, Americans, French and British have mastered......so I am not knocking the Chinese for struggling.

    I think that if we look at India's first effort at the Kaveri and LCA with the Chinese experience in perspective, then we can maybe get a clearer picture of how challenging a task this is.
     
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  3. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    Man....i cant believe it.....not a single Chinese guy responded to this post.

    Badguy and all the other Chinese DFI posters...where are you guys??

    I guess the silence is confirmation of what i just said in my post.
     
  4. Koji

    Koji New Member

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    Not to discredit your point that engine development is hard and that the Chinese have had some trouble, put if you look at ANY military developments, there are many projects that are started and cancelled. Cancellation, as you said, can be due to failure, but it can also be due to numerous other factors. Lack of funding, a foreign purchase opportunity,a newer design, etc..

    The list you provided does not provide any indication as to why the engines were cancelled.
     
  5. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

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    Regarding the list of Chinese aircraft engines, you may have reached the wrong conclusion. The list of engines show that the Chinese are relentless. It also shows that they've been building engines for decades. The Chinese effort reminds me of Microsoft. They have incredible monetary resources at their disposal and they keep trying until the product becomes perfected.

    The extensive Chinese engine programs over decades may actually indicate that India has not invested sufficient resources into engine development.
     
  6. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    well, I know it. and I know more about it.

    the R & d of chinese engine can be divided into 3 stages:


    1.1950s-1970s. or Mao's era. it is a time of "copy" for chinese.
    at that time, CHinese raised many projects ,but allmost all were copies of SOviet's or UK's,why? here is the reasons:
    a.Chinese industry chains were very broken at that time.
    b.chinese were so poor that they could not afford to building necessay R&D facilities.
    c.chinese higher authorities still did not realize that the R&D of engines should be independent from any aircraft project.


    2.1980s-2003, or post-Mao era. During post_mao era, CHinese started to get out of simple "copy" .
    a. Chinese was still not rich,so during the time, Chinese aborted most projects and concentrated resource into limited projects such as WS10 and Kulun .
    b. after failures during Mao era, Chinese higher authorities finnally realized that engine projects should be independent from aircraft projects.So R&D of engines could obstain sustained support of fund.
    C. with the increasing communication and touch with west countries, Chinese engine project got many chance to cooperate with west and convert from Russia Standard to West Standard.
    d.Chinese invested heavily on necessary R&D facilities during the time.


    3.2003-now. it is time to "accelerate" and catch up. now CHinese carry out many engine projects at the same time,just because :
    a. Chinese scientists now have world class R&D facilites ;
    b. China now has thick wallets and chinese engine projects are not annoyed by fund any more.
    c. CHinese industry chains are very full and broad. its civilian industry can provide many dual-purpose tech to the R&D of engines.from material tech to machining tech.
    d.China now has many yound and experienced scientists and technians....

    the only that china needs is just time....:help:
     
  7. Vladimir79

    Vladimir79 Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Can anyone list for me the domestic mass produced turbojet/fan engines today of China that are not based on sixties technology or licensed production?
     
  8. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    Badguy......you have just about listed every possible excuse you can possibly think of !!! And some of them might actually be valid excuses.....that i can grant you.

    But the bottom line is - after about 40 - 50 years of trying(call it "relentless" if you want, nice term for repeated failures), China still does not have a fully indigenous aircraft engine capability that is up to the mark, despite all the foreign help, TOT, and reverse engineering.

    It is still behind the 4 major powers, and it still needs the Russian RD-93 to power its 3rd generation JF-17 jet that it wants to export to Pakistan, which even the smart PLAAF guys dont want.

    India has all the same problems of China, and even less money and funding.

    My more subtle point to the Indian DFI reader is that even though we are behind China in many areas, we can definitely compete with you guys, even if we have less money and funding.

    The aircraft engine story is a good example that China is not that great technological innovation powerhouse that many people think they are, and that Indian struggles in aircraft engine development are par for the course.
     
  9. Martian

    Martian Respected Member Senior Member

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    "My more subtle point to the Indian DFI reader is that even though we are behind China in many areas, we can definitely compete with you guys.

    The aircraft engine story is a good example that China is not that great technological innovation powerhouse that many people think they are, and that Indian struggles in aircraft engine development are par for the course."

    This is a very healthy attitude. No one denies that Indian scientists can be just as clever and competent as any other scientists. India's perceived deficiency with respect to China is not the caliber of her scientists. The perceived shortcomings are a lack of funding, focus, organization, determination, and late start (i.e. ASAT as an example).
     
  10. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    Koji....I dont know this for a fact but based on the spread-sheet, I have a strong suspicion that what the chinese guys are doing is this.

    Lets say they start of with WS-6....if that project does not work and does not meet all the specs they want - then they change the project name to WS-7, WS-8, WS-9, etc., and keep going on for decades.

    This way they dont have to admit that they were basically working on the same project for 40 years. Its called rebranding. Someone should tell the ARDE guys about this.
     
  11. Koji

    Koji New Member

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    It's plausible, but there's no proof.

    Do you have a timeline? I would believe your statement if you showed that they worked on the WS-7 first, dropped it, then worked on the WS-8...and so on.
     
  12. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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    WS-10 is still looked at as cheater's best compliment so you have anything that still matches the standards of RD-93, please do compliment it.
     
  13. Vladimir79

    Vladimir79 Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Sort of, what they are really doing is more like this. They start a project but after almost 20 years of it not meeting the goal they cancel. They do so because it is so obsolete it is not worth wasting the time on it. What they end up doing is improving the sixties era engines they are able to manufacture and get a bunch of underperforming planes like the latest production models of Q-5 and J-8. Instead of trying to come up with their own engines, they then try to copy the old versions of Russian imports. After this fails time and again the cycle just repeats itself and China falls further behind the engine curve.
     
  14. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    Vladimir.....I think your version of the story is probably more accurate than mine.

    But what really amazes me is the number of different projects done by separate companies and they are still not up to par. This is not just engines it also includes fighter planes.....even though they seem to have had more success there.

    The other suprising aspect of this story is that they never quit trying to reverse engineer Russian and other Western products. They dont seem to have much confidence in their own R&D capabilities.
     
  15. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    what you said is exactly what happened during 1950s- early 1980s...

    or more exactly, the stage I of the R&D of Chinese engines.

    those failure proves that R&D of engines is just a air castles without the support of sustained fund and full industry chains...

    :icon_salut:


     
  16. Vladimir79

    Vladimir79 Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    And that is what is also happening today. In ten years from now WS-10 and WS-13 are going to end up on that cancelled list unless the trend can be broken. So far it has been an utter failure.
     
  17. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    well, just let's wait and see......:thumbs_thmbdn:
     
  18. Sridhar

    Sridhar House keeper Moderator

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    Cross posting

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Aerospace Engine situation with the big transport

    As you guys all know, the biggest problem that PLAAF have always had is the lack of high performing engine series. J-10 still relies on AL-31FN. We didn't see any new J-10s for a while, because they used up all of the AL-31FNs. J-11B used WS-10A for a while, but had so much problems that many of them are also using AL-31F. H-6K project was basically stopped, because the suspension of the contract for 240 D-30KP2. J-10 and H-6K production basically only restarted recently because China started to purchase engines from the Russians again. Similarly, the L-15 project has been delayed and Z-10 project has been delayed. Of all the project, I think the one that is the most important for PLAAF and has suffered the most is the large transport project. It's quite apparent that PLAAF needs something in the class of D-30KP2 to equip not only the large transport but also H-6K, newer variants of H-6 and possible future bomber projects. We all know about the tremendous need for large transport in PLAAF. They basically can't build newer KJ-2000 units, because they are running so low on IL-76 airframes.

    Having said all of this. It appears that the prototypes and first batch of the large transport will be using D-30KP2 or the domestic version WS-18. WS-18 is being produced by ChengFa group (Website). Chengdu engine group (aka Factory 420) is also tasked with license production of L-15's engine AI-222-25F. People will ask why they are depending on something so old (China has had access to it since the 80s when they imported Tu-154). The truth is that PLAAF just needs something that works. D-30KP3 at this point is still not ready for mass production, so they have to go with KP2. PS-90A is a possibility, but PLAAF is going for the cheaper option for purchase and license production (or possibly unlicensed production). Therefore, WS-18 is pretty much just going to be the domestic version of D-30KP2, although maybe slightly improved in fuel efficiency and such. This engine was said to have had its first flight in January of 2007, so it should be ready for the large transport when it makes its first flight in 2012. It will probably ready even earlier for H-6K, H-6U and other variants of H-6.

    On top of WS-18, there is also a high bypass turbofan engine under development with its core based on WS-10A. It will eventually be the engine used to power the large transport. I think a variant of it will probably also be pitched as the engine for C919. Now, we all thought that Shenyang Liming (606 Institute) was going to be developing it, but we found out recently that the work has been given to Xi'an AeroEngine (410 Institute). In many ways, it does make sense for XAEC to develop/produce this engine, because Xi'an is also the home of XAC/SAC, which is in charge the large transport project. However, Shenyang Liming is the developer of WS-10A and follow-up variants, so it's unusual for the large bypass variant of the engine to be given to someone else. At this point, Liming still has WP-14 Kunlun series, WS-10A Taihang series, a bunch of domestic gas turbines (QC-70, QC-128, QC-168, QC-185 and QC-260). We all know about the troubles in the WS-10A, but I've read that the Kunlun series also have had a lot of problems. Amongst all the major gas turbine projects, only QC-70 and QC-128 are ready for production. XAEC is now working on WS-9, WS-15, 1/3 of the production work for WS-10A, the large bypass turbofan engine for large transport and most of the production for QC-280. As the result of this, XAEC will be responsible for the future power plant of JH-7A, 5th gen fighter, large transport/special mission aircraft and major warships and also be very instrumental in the power plant of J-10 and J-11. A few years ago, it seemed that Liming was becoming the dominant engine maker in China due to its role in Kunlun and Taihang series, which were the 2 most important aerospace engine projects at that time (and possibly still are). However, due to its failure in those 2 projects and delays in the gas turbine projects, it has really lost out to XAEC, which performed well with WS-9 and QC-280. I think the shift of this extremely high profile project is a sign that PLA is really unhappy with Liming.

    Anyhow, there is a really good article written by SAERI (Shenyang AeroEngine Research Institute). It talks about the 2 engine possibilities (WS-18 and the one based on WS-10) that could be used to power a domestic large transport. The engines are designed to be comparable to D-30KP2 in size/dimension. China has two previous attempts at medium to large turbofan engine. WS-5 from the 60s had a bypass ratio of 1.49 and WS-6 had a bypass ratio of 1.85. Comparatively speaking, D-30KP2 has a bypass ratio of 2.42 while a modern airliner engine like CFM-56-5A has a ratio of 6 and PS-90A has a ratio of 4.6. In this article, SAERI put out to proposals:

    1. WS-Y1 (I guess WS-18 here) that has the same dimension as D-30KP2, with the same thrust, but slight improvement in the bypass ratio
    2. WS-Y2 (the one based on WS-10) that has slightly different ratio, with the same thrust, but bigger improvement in the bypass ratio

    In the analysis, they believe that the air consumption of Y1 would be 285 kg/s and of Y2 would be 380 kg/s. That will produce bypass ratio of around 3 for Y1 and 5 to 6 for Y2. The fan diameter of Y1 would be 1460mm like it is for D-30KP2 and 1700 mm for Y2. The thrust at takeoff mode would be the same for Y1 and Y2 as it is for D-30KP2 (12000 kgf). At an altitude of 11000 m and speed of mach 0.8, the fuel consumption rates would be 0.67-0.68 for Y1 and 0.6-0.62 for Y2 compared to 0.7 for D-30KP2 and 0.595 for PS-90A. And the takeoff fuel consumption rates would be 0.45-0.48 for Y1 and 0.35-0.38 for Y2 compared to 0.51 for D-30KP2.

    Unfortunately, it's hard to verify how close these figures would be to the engines that get developed. However, due to the fact that this was written by SAERI which basically developed the engines that are now being produced by Shenyang Liming, I think the published numbers should not be that far from the truth. It looks like they have achieved much better fuel consumption numbers than D-30KP2, but still trails PS-90A and obviously the latest variants of CFM-56. Something along the line of Y2 is more than enough for China's large transport needs. However, I find it curious that they think they can develop a domestic engine option that can compete against next generation Western options (like PW's GTF series), when it would likely be inferior to CFM-56-7 series.

    The order for 240 D-30KP2 made in 2005 is finally getting carried out this year. These engines might all be delivered by 2012. I think China chose this ahead of KP3 and PS-90A due to maturity of the engine, its lower cost and not wanting to support two lines of high-bypass Russian turbofan engines. By that time, WS-18 should be more than ready to be equipped. WS-10-118 (which is the code name for the large bypass engine prototype based on WS-10A) will probably be ready 3 or 4 years later for the domestic large transport project. WS-18 will still be produced at that point to service the existing fleet using D-30KP2 engines.

    China Air and Naval Power: Aerospace Engine situation with the big transport
     
  19. Sridhar

    Sridhar House keeper Moderator

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    There is no need for china to import 1000 Nos if they have the capability

     
  20. Vladimir79

    Vladimir79 Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Problem with that is there is no competition or unified project management. Back in the CCCP, there were competing design bureaus that were given a set of project criteria they were supposed to meet, and whoever met them the best got the job. If they didn't produce, the managers and their families were sent to Siberian gulags. This worked well in a truly communist state with a huge defence budget. Now that system is over and the way to deal with all the loose companies with no orders was to unify them, set state goals and have them collaborate to meet the challenges to make them competitive against the best the West has to offer on the global market. Project management was so lacking, we had to fire the dead wood and retrain the managers on how to run an efficient and productive operation on the capitalist model.

    The problem with Chinese design institutes are that they are run with no project management, unified goals, or even fiscal responsibility. It is basically a General tells a bunch of undesignated engineers and scientists to reverse engineer this and make it work better than it did. They don't have any experience with what they are set to work on since it is totally foreign, and then they have to spend years getting up to speed just figuring out exactly how it works and another decade to figure out production processes. It takes a year or two just to figure out who is best to work on what aspect of the project. Once they hit the prototype production they find out they messed up most of it and end up back on the drawing board. After a decade or two goes by the word comes down that their work is a waste of time and move on to the next imported generation of engines after wasting billions and accomplishing little.

    Thats what happens when you have created a culture that lacks competition, unified goals, and proper management. Reverse engineering is like a crutch, if you use it too much you forget how to walk on your own. In China's case, they never knew how to walk in the first place. Since they don't compete on the global market they have no benchmark, quality standards, or accountability for their projects. It is what it is and they have to use whatever they have completed, which are just marginal improvements on obsolete systems. The way they hide their inadequacies is by boasting they have something better which in turns, takes away that accountability the rest of us must abide by. How many times have we heard of cases against Chinese officials being swept under the rug? I think the stats are 90% of the time. No one is responsible for anything so incompetence is rampant. If one design institute fails, they move it to another one who then has to relearn the mistakes of the last failed project. The process takes so long it is self defeating.
     
  21. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    Vladimir.....I like reading your posts because you dont pull any punches....you just call it as you see it.
     

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