Pictures have emerged of the second C919 prototype. The first aircraft has only flown once so far. Overall six flight test models are expected to be to used for the flight test program. But assembly appears rather slow. COMAC continues to be quite deliberate in the program.
COMAC plans to achieve EIS by 2020. This provides the firm with some time. But time is also its challenge because the competition will not move as deliberately. The time COMAC needs to complete the C919 allows Airbus to accelerate the A320neo and Boeing to accelerate the 737MAX. Airbus and Boeing will not only achieve their higher production output, they will also have time to tweak their aircraft to improve performance. Bombardier will have better economics by then and the Embraer E2 will be in service.
If COMAC needed Chinese state encouraged airline support before, this will be even greater by 2020. While the C919 will fall behind western competition, COMAC will embark on its own improvement process. How the performance gap closes will be interesting. Can COMAC close the gap faster than western OEMs can stretch it?