COMAC representatives have conceded that the first flight of the C919, which was scheduled to be completed this year, will likely not fly until April 2017. This schedule slippage will likely add another three to six months to the program development timeline, which was scheduled for the first half of 2019. The program status is that the first test aircraft has been completed, but the challenge is to complete the ground testing of a long list of requirements before flying it.
This latest delay moves the program schedule further to the right, now about three years later than originally scheduled. If this schedule holds, it will be six years better than COMAC’s first aircraft, the ARJ-21, which ended up nine years behind schedule.
COMAC has set a goal to account for 5% of the domestic market by 2020. It currently has 517 orders for the C919 aircraft, with all but a handful from Chinese airlines.