ATR sees demand for 120-seat turboprop

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ATR says it is seeing demand from customers for a turboprop that could sit up to 120 passengers, but that it is not in a position to launch such a product in the near future.

Responding to a question from Flightglobal on the potential of a 90-seat turboprop, ATR’s general manager sales Asia Pacific, Christophe Potocki says indications are that customers are interested in an even larger turboprop.

“The market is asking us actually to build a 120-seat turboprop, and this aircraft has to be a totally new design,” he says. “We want to avoid having 120-seat, four-abreast aircraft. That is why we are looking at a totally new design and that is one of the reasons why it is taking some time to convince all shareholders.”

ATR has been working on designs for a 90-seat turboprop, however its two shareholders, Alenia Aermacchi and Airbus Group, have yet to agree to its development.

Potocki pointed out that Airbus in particular has its “priorities elsewhere” at the moment, which is why it has been hesitant to move forward with a larger aircraft design.

He adds that the manufacturer will also “need to wait for the right technology” to ensure that a larger aircraft can beat the operating economics of the 70-seat ATR 72. That would include more powerful engines

Rival Bombardier has ruled out stretching its Dash 8-Q400 since it launched an 86-seat layout for the aircraft at the Dubai air show in November 2013.