Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has unveiled ambitious plans for the launch of an all-composite regional airliner within five years as part of a decade-long masterplan.

However, the proposal floated by TAI chief executive Temel Kotil risks scuppering a separate Turkish regional aircraft programme being driven by US firm Sierra Nevada (SNC).

Speaking at the Dubai air show on 12 November, Kotil confirmed TAI's interest in the sector.

It is examining the potential for a "100-seat-plus" aircraft to be launched in around five years' time, once its existing development programmes have transitioned to serial production and the company has gained sufficient design expertise.

"At that time I'm planning to start a passenger aircraft programme, but not today – I am too busy with defence programmes," says Kotil.

"So there is no room for a passenger machine, but five years later in my hand I will have several hundred well-trained people. And that time, under 10-year masterplan, we will [start] the passenger aircraft also."

Describing it as a jet-powered "100-seat-plus" aircraft, made from "full composite" material – potentially thermoplastic, rather than thermoset – Kotil says it "should be more efficient than existing narrowbody aircraft, maybe as efficient as the 787 in terms of seat-kilometres".

He adds: "But this is future project and we cannot start before five years."

TAI's ambitions in the segment may spell the end for plans, outlined by SNC over the last two years, for the development of a family of Turkish-built regional aircraft.

SNC had proposed a dual-track approach to the market following its February 2015 acquisition of 328 Support Services, the type certificate holder for programmes under the Dornier 328 banner.

Under the plans, SNC – via its TRJet subsidiary – intended to develop modernised versions of the Do328 with both turboprop and jet engines.

It had gone so far as to select Pratt & Whitney Canada as the engine supplier, as well as taking orders for about 60 examples, with deliveries due from 2019.

Further out, it would bring to market a clean-sheet aircraft with 50-70 seats for service entry in around 2023.

However, despite much publicity at the 2016 Farnborough air show, there has been little information about the project since.

Speculation suggests that the Turkish government has since revised its approach to the segment.

TAI had been approached as a potential partner for the effort, but was never officially signed up.

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Source: Cirium Dashboard