FARNBOROUGH: Bombardier happy to wait to launch stretched Q400

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Bombardier is still eyeing a revamped 90-seat version of its Q400 turboprop but is content to wait for engine advancements before committing to a new development programme.

Sam Cherry, director, product strategy, commercial aircraft programmes, says customers are keen on a bigger version of its high-speed regional turboprop, "but they tell us not to give them anything that performs worse than the current aircraft".

The airframer could do a simple stretch of the aircraft relatively quickly, says Cherry, but that would not provide a significant performance gain over the 70-seat variant.

He says: "We could add 12ft of metal into the middle of [the Q400] within 36 months but that is not what the market wants. The market wants equivalent performance to the Q400 and you can't get that just by stretching it."

It believes rival ATR will struggle to quickly produce a larger version of its 72-600 thanks to the location of the landing gear on the type.

However, key to any new turboprop programme will be the development of a new engine. The Q400 uses twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A powerplants and Cherry says Bombardier is in frequent conversation with the engine manufacturer over new programmes. But he notes: "No-one is saying it has to be a Pratt [& Whitney Canada engine] - if there's an engine available we'll investigate all the available solutions."

There is one new turboprop under development says Cherry, but declines to name the manufacturer.

He is also dismissive over Brazilian airframer Embraer's plans to re-engine its E-Jet range of regional jets, which rival Bombardier's CRJ range. Embraer is spending $2 billion - two-thirds of the development cost of the CSeries - "just modifying an existing aircraft for more of the same.

"They need to re-engine and re-wing just to get up to speed with us. That gives us a lot of time to work on developments if the marketplace actually demands it," he says.