COMAC has confirmed that it expects the first 150-seat C919 to be delivered in 2021, verifying earlier indications from the Chinese manufacturer that there is another year’s delay.

The first C919 will be delivered to launch customer China Eastern in 2021, COMAC C919 chief designer Wu Guanghui told Chinese media.

During the Singapore Air Show in February, COMAC deputy general manager sales and marketing Lu Zheng told journalists that the company was “trying for 2021” for first delivery, indicating a one-year slip from a previous unannounced target of 2020.

If the 2021 delivery date stays true, the aircraft will be five years off its original program target.

In China this week, Wu confirmed there were two C919s conducting flight tests, with four more to be added to the program.

The first, second and third C919s are mainly focused on testing aircraft function, structure and control capability; the fourth aircraft is verifying avionics and lighting systems; the fifth aircraft is testing cabin environment controls, cabin systems, and heat and cold extremes; and the sixth aircraft is testing cabin systems and aircraft function reliability.

“All this preparation work toward the first delivery will take three or four years to complete. We hope to get C919 airworthiness certification at the end of 2020 and therefore the first C919 is estimated to be delivered to China Eastern in 2021,” Wu said.

China Eastern signed a cooperation framework agreement with COMAC to become the launch customer at the Zhuhai Air Show in November 2016.

To date, COMAC has 815 orders for the aircraft, which first flew in 2017. The manufacturer has committed to producing between 20 and 50 C919s annually and to increasing annual production capability to 150 C919s and 50 ARJ21 regional aircraft by 2020.