ATR is convinced that 30% of the demand for 3,000 turboprops over the next 20 years would be met by a larger aircraft, but is still waiting for a "convergent" solution to extend its family to the 90-seat sector.
Chief executive Filippo Bagnato believes that the technology "bricks" are already in place at engine manufacturers Pratt & Whitney and General Electric to develop a family of powerplants to succeed the "very good" PW127.
ATR would retain the current high-wing design for the potential 92- to 94-seat airframe.
"But I need to understand how I can converge the product policy of the aircraft manufacturer with that of the engine manufacturer," says Bagnato. "That is paramount. The rest will follow."
The timeframe remains unclear, however. Bagnato says: "Too many developments have been launched without reasonable maturation."
He says a new aircraft would require a 15% saving in fuel burn and that the technology is available at both engine suppliers.
"I'm insisting on one conceptual point," says Bagnato. "Between performance and cost-effectiveness, the priority is cost-effectiveness, not spending money on speed.
"I don't want to get out of my sport. I don't believe pushing too much on speed will [increase competitiveness]."
The company is to deliver to Royal Air Maroc the first example of its latest -600-series aircraft family, an ATR 72-600, around June this year as the airframer prepares to ramp up production in 2012.