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RAA notes: Regional manufacturers wary of large turboprop for now

Regional manufacturers are not as enthusiastic about a larger turboprop as they were several years ago.

At the 2010 Regional Airline Association (RAA) convention in Milwaukee, there was a great deal of talk—and enthusiasm—about launching a larger, 80-to-100-seat turboprop. At RAA 2013 in Montreal, that talk has been considerably quieted.

ATR said in May 2010 that deciding on launching a larger turboprop would be “fundamental” in 2011. In 2009, Gary Scott, then president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, said his company intended to move forward with a stretch version of the 70-seat Q400 with first delivery likely in a 2013-14 timeframe.

While ATR and Bombardier have not abandoned the idea, there appears to be no launch of a larger turboprop program coming anytime soon. ATR said it has presented a business plan for a larger turboprop to its shareholders, but it is still being evaluated with no timeframe given on a decision. As for Bombardier? “The turboprop aircraft market isn’t as large as it would have to be to launch a new aircraft,” Bombardier senior VP-sales and marketing Chet Fuller said during a briefing this week at the RAA convention.

Embraer president and CEO-commercial aviation Paulo Cesar Souza e Silva, whose company once manufactured turboprops used by airlines but does not do so currently, said, “We are always looking at [building a large turboprop], but it’s something for the future.”

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