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SHANGHAI, April 26 (Reuters) - Europe's aviation safety regulator said on Wednesday it had started the certification process for China's C919 passenger jet, which is set for its maiden flight early next month, a sign of closer ties between the two aviation markets.
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Executive Director Patrick Ky said at an event in Shanghai that no decision had yet been made on certifying the C919 and that it was part of ongoing negotiations around a Bilateral Air Safety Agreements (BASA) between the two regions.
The European and Chinese aviation regulators are preparing to meet in the Chinese port city on Thursday in an inaugural session to discuss safety issues, as China's looks to raise its profile and clout in the global aviation market.
The C919 single-aisle jet, built by state-backed plane maker COMAC, is China's big hope to compete with Boeing Co and Airbus for a slice of global jet sales worth $2 trillion over the next 20 years.
The meeting between the EASA and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is the first to be held since the two signed an agreement in 2015 to cooperate more closely on aviation issues.
The Shanghai Airport Authority said on Wednesday the C919 jet's maiden flight was set for early May, the first official confirmation of the much-anticipated event. (Reporting by Jackie Cai and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Susan Thomas and Jane Merriman)