It was reported that the Y-20 started ground testing from December 2012, including runway taxi tests. The aircraft made its maiden flight lasting one hour on January 26, 2013. During landing in first flight, it was reported that the Y-20 prototype bounced once before finally settling on runway due to high landing speed. In December 2013, a new Y-20 prototype took to the sky.
On 6 February 2016 the Y-20 was flown for the first time and pictures of the fifth prototype (serial number 788) in flight appeared on Chinese military webpages. Other known prototypes carry identification numbers 781, 783 and 785. On 27 January 2016, former Chinese test pilot Xu Yongling had reported in a Xinhua article that Chinese aviation industry officials had stated that the Y-20 "completed development" at the end of 2015. In June 2016, the first two Xian Y-20 aircraft were delivered to the People's Liberation Army Air Force(PLAAF).