Three more C919 prototypes will be flown this year as preparations for manufacturing China’s home-built narrow body passenger aircraft are accelerated, Chinese state media has reported.
According to the China Daily website and China Central Television, the developer of the C919, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), is testing the assembly area for the aircraft, while modifications are being carried out to test aircraft 102 and 103 for flight tests.
“The 104 aircraft has entered the final assembly stage. The jet is about to make its first flight after rolling off the final assembly line,” said Meng Jianxin, deputy director of the C919 division under Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing, COMAC.
COMAC has said it is producing six aircraft for test flights, and will complete more than 1,000 compliance tests. Two other aircraft will only undergo ground tests, including static and fatigue tests. The aircraft, which first flew in May 2017, is expected to enter commercial service in 2021.
According to Meng, the 105 test aircraft is in the process of part fabrication, and major parts of the 106 aircraft are being manufactured. “All of them will have flight tests by the end of this year,” he said.
“2019 is key for the C919, and it is hoped that we can further optimize the flight tasks, enhance flight test efficiency, and complete all the tasks safely,” said Lai Peijun, a flight test engineer with COMAC.
The C919 is widely-seen as China’s first aircraft to compete directly with Boeing and Airbus. It can carry up to 168 passengers and has a range of up to 5,555km (3000 nautical miles).