Chinese manufacturer COMAC has confirmed its plan to fly the third C919 flight-test aircraft this year as the program works toward a targeted first delivery in 2021, state media say, citing the company.

The manufacturer expects to conduct 1,500 test flights between now and the first delivery, accumulating more than 2,000 flight hours, news organizations including Phoenix Media say.

The first two prototypes returned to flight in June after some weeks on the ground for what industry sources described as modifications. COMAC intends to use a total of six flight-test aircraft and two static-test airframes in developing the C919.

Restatement of the plans to fly the third aircraft this year and to begin deliveries in 2021 indicates some stability in the repeatedly delayed program. When full-scale development began in 2008, the first delivery C919 was supposed to be handed over in 2016.

For four years before February 2018 COMAC did not publicly disclose schedule revisions.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has said COMAC aims to achieve airworthiness certification in 2020.

China Eastern Airlines is scheduled to be the first operator of the C919, which is designed for standard two-class seating for 158 passengers. 

Bradley Perrett,