We reported in the December issue of Cargo Facts that a new Chinese-manufactured freighter, the MA 600F, had made its first flight, but were only able to offer limited information. We can now add a bit more information, some photos, and news of a launch operator.
To start though, a bit of history: The MA (Modern Ark) 600F, manufactured by the Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation is the freighter variant of the MA600, which is an improved version of the MA60, which was a stretched version of the Xian Y7-200A, which was a Chinese-built aircraft based on the An-24 – a twin-turboprop designed in the 1950s by Ukraine-based Antonov Design Bureau.
As can be seen in the photos, the MA600F is a dedicated freighter with a large cargo door, aft of the wing. However, in an unusual move, the manufacturer has placed the door on the starboard side of the aircraft. Inside, the MA600F features a ball mat cargo loading system designed by PFW Aerospace, and can accommodate five LD3 containers or five 88” x 54” pallets. It is powered by two PW127J turboprop engines.
The 60-seat MA60/600 has not been a huge seller. 77 units have been delivered since 2000, but 13 have already been parked. As for the MA600 freighter (which will face stiff competition from established types such as the ATR72, ATP and Dash 8-Q400), there are reports of ten orders, but it seems likely that some of these are from the Chinese government, with no end user specified. However as I write this in early January, Yemen-based Felix Airlines is about to take delivery of two units, as part of a deal in which the Yemen Ministry of Transport agreed to acquire a total of six MA-60 Family aircraft from the Chinese manufacturer. Felix currently operates two CRJ-200s and two CRJ-700s in regional passenger service, but according to fleet-tracking service ch-aviation, plans to replace these with a combination of A320 Family jets and Dash-8 turboprops. The MA600Fs will mark the carrier’s entry into the main-deck freight business.