US regional carrier Silver Airways has signed a letter of intent for up to 50 ATR 42-600 aircraft, identifying a replacement for its aging fleet of Saab 340Bs after a nearly two-year search.

The airline has also named aviation legal consultant Steven Rossum as its new chief executive, replacing Sami Teittinen who is leaving the airline.

Silver's ATR commitment is split between 20 firm aircraft and 30 options for the 46-seat turboprop, the Fort Lauderdale-based regional carrier says. The deal is worth up to $1.1 billion at list prices.

"This aircraft acquisition is a monumental leap forward for Silver… and will allow us to expand our network with greater reach, including further into the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States,” says Jason Bewley, the carrier's chief financial officer who has now been promoted to president.

Silver will take its first four ATR 42s in the fourth quarter, pending regulatory approval, and the remaining 16 through the first quarter of 2020, it says.

The carrier also has the option to convert some of the ATR 42s to the larger ATR 72-600, Silver says.

Silver plans to lease the aircraft, it says.

The airline will use the 46-seat ATR 42s to replace its fleet of 21 Saab 340Bs, which have 34 seats. Its Saab fleet has an average age of 19.5 years, the Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

Silver began the search for a replacement of its Saab fleet in December 2015.

The carrier is the first carrier in the USA to order and, most likely, operate the ATR 42-600, the Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

There are 15 ATR 42-600s in service in the Americas at Aeromar, Air Antilles, Bahamasair, LIAT and Satena, according to the database.

Source: Cirium Dashboard