ATR is more confident that it could put a proposal to its shareholders next year outlining a larger turboprop design.

The airframer has been reluctant to discuss timing of a possible 90-seat aircraft - despite stressing its belief that there is a market for one - citing a distance between its own product policy and that of the potential engine manufacturers.

But chief executive Filippo Bagnato told Flight International in Paris last week that ATR had greater clarity about the technical situation.

"We've done some additional work with the engine manufacturer," he said. "Today they've progressed on the harmonisation between us and them."

He said "energy is cost" and the primary consideration was the economic performance of the aircraft. "That's something confirmed by all my customers," he added.

But ATR is confident that it is closing on a commitment to a larger aircraft. "We think in 2012 we'll have the elements for taking a decision," Bagnato said, but cautioned: "It's one thing to go to the shareholders - coming out is another."

While Bombardier also signalled last month that it was seriously looking at stretching its Q400, Bagnato insisted ATR was not being driven by its rival. Referring to an Italian term for counter-attack, he said: "We're not playing the 'contropiede' game."

Source: Flight International