China is set to delay the maiden flight of its first homegrown commercial jet, the Comac C919, as the final assembly of the aircraft is taking longer than expected, Reuters reported.
Delivery of the first plane, scheduled for 2018, is also likely to be pushed back, perhaps to as late as 2020, the report said, citing sources familiar with the matter.
The narrow-body aircraft, which will be able to carry 156-168 passengers and aims to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, was originally scheduled to make its maiden flight by end-2015.
But it has been put off until the first half of 2016, as the final assembly of the first aircraft — which is taking place at a Shanghai facility of state-owned Comac – is taking longer than origninally envisaged, according to the report.
“Comac is proceeding extremely cautiously with the first aircraft. It is deliberately checking everything … to ensure that there are no safety issues,” a source told Reuters.
China has high hopes for the C919 in the lucrative narrow-body market which accounts for more than 50 percent of the aircraft in service.
Comac has commitments for 450 C919s, mainly from Chinese airlines and leasing firms backed by Chinese banks and financial institutions.
Further delays will make it harder for the plane to make an impact beyond its home market, the report noted.
– Contact us at [email protected]