ATR may look at VTOL aircraft: Orsi

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Although ATR's next development programme is likely to be a 90-seat turboprop, the airframer may also be looking to move in an entirely different direction.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the delivery of its 1,000th aircraft on 3 May, Giuseppe Orsi, chief executive of Finmeccanica, ATR's co-owner alongside EADS, said: "We have all heard about the new [90-seat] aircraft but we may also develop an ATR with a vertical take off and landing capability,

"Both EADS and Finmeccanica have the technology."

Eurocopter, EADS's helicopter business, said in January it was keen to explore the possibility of vertical lift commuting, deploying technology from its X3 high-speed demonstrator onto large rotorcraft platforms.

Equally, AgustaWestland, Finmeccanica's rotorcraft division, is developing its AW609 tiltrotor, having acquired the programme from Bell Helicopter in November last year.

It describes the AW609 as "the answer to the growing need for an aircraft matching the vertical capabilities of the helicopter with the speed, range and altitude capabilities of a fixed-wing aircraft".

However, ATR cautions that no decision on a VTOL programme is likely anytime soon.