Bombardier still wants to outsource major structural work for the Q400 to factories outside Canada, but discussions with potential partners remain ongoing, the company's top commercial aircraft executive has disclosed.

The union that represents Q400 machinists in Toronto agreed last June to allow Bombardier to move assembly of the wings and cockpit section overseas.

Bombardier was expected to move the cockpit section to its existing plant in Queretaro, Mexico. The wings, meanwhile, would be outsourced to China's Shenyang Aircraft, which already builds the Q400's centre fuselage.

But the manufacturer is open to moving the wings and cockpit sections to anywhere in the world, says Fred Cromer, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

The priority is finding a low-cost manufacturing site to place the work, he says.

Bombardier has spent years searching for a more economical way to produce the Q400. The turboprop offers more speed and comfort features than the rival ATR 72-600, but comes with a higher list price.

Despite the pricing pressure, demand for the nearly 20-year-old 74-seat turboprop has picked up this year. In September, SpiceJet signed a firm purchase agreement for 25 Q400s with options for 25 more.

The order by the Indian carrier also launched the 90-seat version of the aircraft, with a single-class layout in rows with 28in pitch.

Increasing the capacity of the existing Q400 is part of Bombardier's plan to make the operating economics of the aircraft more attractive.

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Source: Cirium Dashboard