Embraer has begun to crystallise its previously disclosed interest in the market for turboprop airliners, holding a series of meetings with potential customers.
The "European advisory board" met on 12 and 13 September at Embraer's European headquarters near Amsterdam, with over 20 flag carriers participating.
"They met with us to engage for the first time on a topic around addressing the turboprop market," said Embraer Commercial Aviation chief executive John Slattery at an Aviation Club event in London on 14 September.
Slattery says Embraer's interest in the segment has been well received by airlines as "they want competition" for market leader ATR and second-placed Bombardier.
"They see it as a leading brand coming in to a market they have not traditionally been in. It's like Ferrari entering the SUV market," he says.
Slattery emphasises that no decision has been made on any potential product launch, with the initial talks intended to discover "how those airlines felt about the incumbent offerings".
However, Slattery notes that both the ATR 72 series and Bombardier Q400 feature technology that is "decades old".
"It is an area we are very interested in. We are in the early stages of considering the business case," says Slattery.
However, no decision has been made on the size of any potential clean-sheet aircraft, nor the potential market.
In addition, it is likely to wait until the E2 E-Jet-family has entered service – over the period 2018-2021 – before launching a new programme. "If we were to launch one more programme it would be a lot for a company of our size," he says.
Initial discussions with propulsion manufacturers have also taken place, he adds.
Nonetheless, Slattery emphasises that Embraer has an ambition to be the sector leader in the sub-150-seat space.