BEIJING/SYDNEY - Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) has mostly finalised the design of its C919 narrowbody jet, paving the way for China's aviation regulator to oversee final flight testing, the manufacturer said on Friday. Designed to compete directly with the Airbus SE A320 and the Boeing Co 737 families in the market for jets with around 150 seats, the C919 is the speartip of China's efforts to break a powerful decades-old Western duopoly. COMAC said the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has issued the C919's Type Inspection Authorisation, meaning there could no longer be major adjustments to the aircraft structure. The manufacturer has said it expects to obtain an airworthiness certificate for the C919 from China's aviation regulator next year, which would allow it to begin delivering the jet to domestic airlines. China, the first country to ground Boeing's 737 MAX following two fatal crashes, has not set a timetable for the U.S.-made jet's return to service, the head of its aviation regulator said last month. The United States lifted its 737 MAX flight ban last week, easing a safety crisis that left its top exporter with a tarnished reputation and hundreds of idle jets. REUTERS
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