The agreement, signed at the Zhuhai airshow, is the first time a Chinese-manufactured civilian aircraft is to be exported to the United States.
The reports say the Y-12s will be used on short-haul passenger and cargo flights from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon as well as on sightseeing flights. There is one company that focuses on this market and its name is Scenic Airways. We have a request in to speak with him in early this morning.
Currently the airline flies Twin Otters which are probably aging. Its not clear the Y-12s will have the same huge windows as the Twin Otters for sightseeing. Moreover the Y-12 seats 17 passengers compared to 19 for the Twin Otter. The Twin Otter may be an old design, but they are still being made and sold by Viking in Canada.
Speculating for a moment, the Y-12 is in use with many airlines around the world. So there’s no question about its viability. After all, the Y-12 is the only Chinese civilian aircraft to have been awarded a Type Certificate by the FAA. This agreement may end up being for the Twin Panda version.
In any event, we suspect the price differential between the Y-12 and the Twin Otter played a huge factor in selection. As we can see the Twin Otter is a bit beefier and likely costs a lot more, given Canadian labor costs.