American Regional Aircraft Industries (AMRAI) is urging IPTN to focus all of its efforts on certificating the N250 turboprop, warning that any re-engining of the aircraft with a turbofan will serve only to delay the programme further.

The Indonesian firm launched a study into re-engineing the planned stretched N270 soon after Continental Express announced its order for up to 200 50-seat Embraer EMB-45 regional jets.

"This was a turning point in the US market, and there is no doubt that it is sliding towards turbofans," acknowledges an IPTN official. The study may be focusing on re-designing the planned 70-seater around a 62.3kN (14,000lb)-thrust-class power plant, such as the Allison AE3012, General Electric CF34-8C or Pratt & Whitney Canada/Snecma SPW14.

AMRAI is concerned that any changes would detract its parent company, IPTN, from the principal goal of gaining US Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness approval for the N250-100. The aircraft is not expected to be type certificated before the end of 1998, as the result of continuing conformity problems with prototype PA2 (Flight International, 20-26 November, P12), which will have its first flight on 12 December.

AMRAI says that it must be able to guarantee delivery of the first US-customised variant of the aircraft by early 2000, otherwise, it warns, "-market penetration will prove too difficult". FAA type certification of the Allison AE2100C-powered N270 is scheduled to follow 12 months behind that of the 64- to 68-seat N250-100.

"We cannot afford one more month of slippage," cautions AMRAI marketing vice-president Jean-Mark Eloy. He adds: "It would be great to have a turbofan, but we should focus on one aircraft at a time and get the N250 type certificated by a reputable authority."

Re-engineing the N270 would involve a change in the aircraft's wing design for there to be any significant improvement in performance. The aircraft already flies at the top of the turboprop range, with a maximum design speed of 330kt (600km/h).

Re-engineing will be on the agenda of a programme review meeting to be held between IPTN and AMRAI, scheduled for 12 December, where the direction of the yet-to-be launched N270 will be discussed.

Source: Flight International