China's COMAC says C919's third test flight delayed due to bad weather

SHANGHAI, REUTERS -- Plans to send China's home-built C919 passenger jet on its third test flight have been delayed due to bad weather, a Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC) official told Reuters on Thursday.

COMAC Vice President Shi Jianzhong said last month that the plane was expected to make its third test flight within two weeks of its second test flight on Sept. 28, suggesting the test flight would take place by the end of this week.

A COMAC official, who declined to give his name due to company policy, said that plans for that flight had been pushed back due to bad weather. "No decision has yet been made on when the next flight will be," he said.

The almost five month-gap between the C919's first and second flight was far longer than that of other new aircraft and had raised concerns that COMAC's plans to deliver the aircraft were running behind schedule.

Shi had said the firm was being cautious over issues with the plane's technology and engine that had surfaced but that COMAC expected future test flights to be very close together.

The narrow-body C919, which will compete with Boeing Co's 737 and the Airbus SE's A320, is a symbol of China's efforts to become a key player in the global civil aerospace market and also represents President Xi Jinping's ambitions to upgrade the country's manufacturing industry.