Technical issues at China’s top aircraft manufacturer

One would think that the multiple catastrophic failures — both technical and with PR — at the American airplane manufacturer Boeing would be a boon to China. China’s Commercial Aircraft Corporation (COMAC) is, after all, developing aircraft designed to compete with Boeing.

But Reuters reports that COMAC is perhaps not living up to expectations:

Development of China’s C919 single-aisle plane, already at least five years behind schedule, is going slower than expected, a dozen people familiar with the program told Reuters, as the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation (COMAC) struggles with a range of technical issues that have severely restricted test flights.

Delays are common in complex aerospace programs, but the especially slow progress is a potential embarrassment for China, which has invested heavily in its first serious attempt to break the hold of Boeing and Airbus on the global jet market.

The most recent problem came down to a mathematical error, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.

For more on COMAC and its planes in development, see the BBC: Can China’s plane-maker take on Boeing and Airbus?