COLOGNE, March 15 (Reuters) – Europe’s air safety regulator will take whatever time is needed to approve China’s C919 passenger jet, its top official told Reuters, dampening Beijing’s hopes of quickly breaking into a market marked by jet shortages and a Boeing safety crisis.

China is stepping up regulatory pressure to win foreign backing for its new jet, but industry sources have warned the landmark approvals from Western regulators could take years.

The COMAC C919 narrow body jet – designed to compete with best-selling models of dominant planemakers Airbus and Boeing entered service in China last May after winning domestic safety certification in 2022.

Luc Tytgat, acting executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), said COMAC had initially asked for European approval in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic stopped work. It re-launched the bid in November, requesting that the work be completed by 2026.

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