ATR has provided early details about its projected 90-seat regional turboprop, but is not confirming whether the programme will be formally launched this year.

Chief executive Filippo Bagnato showed a slide during the airframer's press conference in Toulouse on 23 January, depicting an outline of the future aircraft.

It featured a wing with upwards-angled winglets and engines with eight-blade propellers.

The illustration also showed a classic T-tail, with the horizontal stabiliser mounted on top of the fin. On current-generation ATR 42 and 72 aircraft, the fin extends above the horizontal stabiliser.

The horizontal stabiliser further featured small winglets, though these were downwards-angled.

Bagnato says that while the future model will have features distinguishing it from current-generation ATR aircraft, it will still be based on the current design philosophy for commonality.

He adds that the manufacturer was able to "give a bit more solidity" to the project in 2012, submitting a business plan to its shareholders - Alenia Aermacchi and EADS - which are now in the process of deciding the next steps.

He declined to say when a formal programme launch decision should be expected, but says that development will take between four and five years.

ATR has shared baseline designs with major suppliers and received feedback about components such as the landing gear, flight control and air conditioning systems.

Bagnato says the manufacturer has yet to make an engine decision. Whichever supplier is selected - Safran has indicated potential interest, alongside incumbents General Electric and Pratt & Whitney Canada - it will need to provide engines for current as well as next-generation engines with a high degree of commonality, he adds.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news