ATR expects to gain Chinese certification of its -600 series this year, as it bids to enter the country's market with the latest variants of its turboprops.
The manufacturer's chief executive Christian Scherer said at a results briefing in Toulouse on 22 January that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) had accepted an application to certificate the aircraft.
That step, he says, was a result of the bilateral agreement signed by the European Aviation Safety Agency and CAAC, with the objective of achieving mutual recognition of the two regulators' certification standards.
Scherer describes this agreement as a "roadmap towards mutual recognition" which was "initialled" in December 2017.
Nevertheless, he expects that achieving CAAC certification for the variant will be "a matter of months" and will "certainly" take place in 2018.
"As soon as that's done, then our intention obviously would be to firm up the declarations of intent from our Chinese customers," Scherer says.
At last year's Paris air show, ATR disclosed separate tentative orders by Shaanxi Tianju Investment Group and Xuzhou Hantong Aviation Development for ATR 42-600s. The two entities signed letters of intent for 10 and three units, respectively.
ATR said at the time that it expected deliveries to begin in 2018.
Scherer acknowledges that "not many" regional airlines have been granted operating licences by the Chinese authorities. He says regulators have previously concentrated on boosting the country's mainline sector but is hopeful that the situation is beginning to change.
"Conservative" estimates point to demand for 300 turboprops in the country, Scherer says.