It is under the greatest secrecy that the Chinese aircraft manufacturers, Comac, are refining the assembly of their first regional jet, the C919. Images of the final assembly line, located in Shanghai are rare, and communication almost nonexistent.
All of which makes news of the programme’s actual progress difficult under the circumstances. The only certainty is that on 14 July, the 170-seater aircraft received its first landing gear from the equipment supplier, Liebherr Aerospace, and a week later, the first LEAP engine from the manufacturer, CFM International.
According to our information, assembly of the first prototype sections is finished and electrical cable installation is in progress. The official presentation (rollout) of the first test unit should even be in October. The maiden flight of the C919 could then take place in the spring of 2016; two years behind the original schedule.
Comac plans to build a total of six prototypes for its flight test programme, with assembly of the second C919 scheduled to begin next month.
The latest forecast from Boeing, is that China will need 6,300 new aircraft over the next 20 years, more than two thirds of which will be 90 to 230-seater single-aisles, with Comac wishing to monopolize much of them.