Flight testing of the COMAC C919 is still a long way off being completed anytime soon before the type will be certified. Yet, the Chinese OEM expects the first deliveries of the single-aisle aircraft to happen this year. COMAC C919 still needs some 240 flights until certification.

During an event in Shanghai, an official of the airworthiness department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), Yang Zhenmei, offered some insights into the program to the local outlet The Paper. He confirmed that the program was running behind schedule, partly because of the effects of the Covid-crisis.

Zhenmei said that the test program has completed 1.694 of the planned 3.273 ‘test points’, so more than half. But the number of test flights is lagging behind. Only 34 flights of the scheduled 276 have been done. Zhenmei must have been referring to flights that are part of the certification program only, as the fleet of six C919 test aircraft must have done more flights since the maiden one on May 5, 2017. Still to be completed are icing tests.

COMAC’s deputy general manager and chief accountant, Wu Yongliang, was quoted in the report as saying that he expects the first deliveries of the C919 in 2022. Last April, China Eastern Airlines said it was hoping to receive the first aircraft before the end of 2021.

As AirInsight reported early in January, four C919s were stranded in Xi’an after the city went into lockdown on December 22 after rising Covid infections. The aircraft with registrations B-001A and B-001C have not flown so far this year, with 001C last active on November 16. Both are in Xi’an. B-001D resumed test flying in Xi’an on January 10 but only has done another flight on the 12th. B-001E showed up on radar today on January 20 but didn’t fly.

Test aircraft B-001F has been flying on January 13 and 15 out of Dongying, one of the airfields used by COMAC for the test program. The most active is B-001G, which resumed flying on January 6, also at Dongying. She did eight test flights there until January 18 but flew to Jinan on January 20 to continue testing to Lüliang in Central China.

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Richard Schuurman
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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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