Q400X still of 'high interest' to airlines: Bombardier

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A stretch version of Bombardier's Q400 turboprop remains of "high interest" to existing and potential customers, a top programme official says.

The 90-seat aircraft - dubbed the Q400X - "is going to be a very versatile airplane", Gordon Pratt, Bombardier's Q400 programme director told ATI in a recent interview.

"In terms of seat mile costs, it has the potential to be a tremendous airplane," he says.

Bombardier has not yet formally launched the Q400X programme, but management previously said it is eyeing possible introduction of the type in the 2013-14 timeframe.

Generally, Bombardier sees a "steady and increasing market" for turboprops going forward, including in the United States, says Pratt.

Between early 2000 and December 2009, the Canadian airframer delivered 65 standard Q400s to US operators, including to Alaska Air Group subsidiary Horizon, Pinnacle Airlines subsidiary Colgan and Frontier Airlines.

While the 11 Q400s operated by former Frontier unit, and now Republic Airways subsidiary, Lynx Aviation are being culled from Republic's fleet, Bombardier "clearly believes there is a role for the Q400 in North America", says Pratt.

He points out that the Q400 "enters services that were either previously flown by jets or are still flown by jets and are being supplemented by turboprops at different times of the day".