Bombardier eyeing 90-seat Q400 for 'second half of this decade'

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Bombardier has given its strongest indication yet that it intends to offer a stretch of its 70-seat Q400 turboprop.

"Of course we have a bigger Q400 in mind. There is definitely room for a 90-seat Q400," said Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Gary Scott today during a pre-Paris air show briefing in Geneva.

"It's probably sometime in the second half of this decade. And we expect there will be competition too."

Bombardier's competitor in the space ATR said this week that a firm decision to launch its own 90-seat aircraft is not likely to emerge this year as the airframer continues to focus on certification of the ATR 72-600.

Scott, meanwhile, said turboprop aircraft are "becoming more and more a key part of our future" as more airlines warm to the type.

He revealed that some carriers are looking at operating the Q400 in a two-class configuration, and that Bombardier has "a customer that it going to introduce two-class in the not too distant future".

This configuration will be particularly important in North America, said Scott, as the Q400 is used to replace 50-seat regional jets.

Bombardier is also improving the navigation systems on the Q400, added Scott, and continuing to improve on fuel efficiency.