China’s first homegrown large-sized unmanned cargo plane TP500 began to be assembled on October 18 in northern China’s Shandong Province, marking a crucial shift for the aircraft from a prototype into a commercially viable product.
Developed by the No.1 Aircraft Design Institute of Aviation Industry Corporation of China, Ltd. and manufactured by Yitong UCA Co. Ltd, TP500 is a large-sized cargo plane with a capacity of 500 kg and a flight radius of 500 km.
Its maximum take-off mass (MTOM) is 1500 kg. It has a maximum speed of 260 kph and a lift of 3,600m.
The dimensions of the aircraft are 8.67m (lenght), 9.88m (width) and 2.97m (height).
Original Chinese reports didn’t specify how long the plane can remain airborne.
With a range of 1,800 km, it features a high level of intelligence, controllability and cost-effectiveness, thereby addressing the lack of large-sized logistics aircraft in China’s aviation industry.
At a ceremony marking the start of mass production in Yantai, a coastal city, eight companies from home and abroad signed advanced purchase agreements with Yitong UCA for 216 units of TP500.
Among them, ZTO (中通快递), one of China’s largest express delivery firms, alone placed an order for 30 units of the aircraft.
The total value of the purchases was not disclosed.
“As a leading domestic logistics service provider, we explored a large number of application scenarios pertinent to pilotless cargo plane,” Jin Renqun, vice president of ZTO, said.
Moving forward, the company will continue to conduct pilot schemes in the area of unmanned cargo delivery, in a bid to optimize its product offerings and operational system.
On the same day, the development of another large-sized autonomous cargo plane called TP2000, which boasts a greater capacity, range and performance, also got underway.