Last May, China’s first manufacturer of a commercial jet, Comac, conducted its first flight test of its competitor to Boeing Co.’s (NYSE: BA) single-aisle 737 and the Airbus A320. The company now says the second test flight will occur in October. That gap is many times longer than the typical gap between test flights.
According to a report in Aviation Week, Comac’s chief designer said that none of the issues that have caused the delay were the company’s fault, but he did not elaborate.
A second prototype of the plane, designated as the C919, is also being built and is tentatively scheduled to make its first test flight before the end of the year.
The C919 program was launched in 2008 with a goal of first delivery to a customer set for 2016. A new target delivery date of 2020 is considered likely, but Comac has not confirmed that date.
Aviation Week noted that the five-month delay between test flights of the C919 is “extraordinary,” citing Mitsubishi’s MRJ regional jet’s eight-day interval between a first and second test flight and a five-day interval for the Airbus A350. Comac’s five-month delay jeopardizes a first delivery date of 2020, according to the report.
Earlier this month People’s Daily reported that China is also developing its own engine to replace the CFM Leap-1C engines built by CFM, a 50/50 joint venture between General Electric and French engine maker Safran. No in-service date was given in the announcement.
Comac is building six prototypes of the C919 and plans to use three for flight testing and three to verify avionics and lighting.