ATR says that it has entered advanced discussions with Pratt & Whitney and General Electric on engines to power a larger turboprop airliner, which it could launch over the next year.
“You know we are discussing with two to three engine manufacturers but not just general discussions, but in a very detailed way, and namely Pratt & Whitney and General Electric and they have very, very interesting things for us,” said Mario Formica, head of marketing at ATR at a press briefing in the US, who added that the airframer would be targeting a 2016 entry into service for the aircraft.
GE Aviation is reportedly looking at offering ATR an adaptation of the GE38 turboshaft engine which powers the CH-53K heavylift helicopter. “Currently our thought process is to utilise the core size defined by the GE38 and use that for potential opportunities,” GE’s general manager of the CF34 turbofan Chuck Nugent told Flightglobal.
Both Bombardier and ATR are expected over the next few years to reveal plans for 90 seater commercial turboprops, with a number of airlines interested in providing an intermediate step between the current 66-72 seat Q400s and ATR 72s and regional jets. While regional jets have made major inroads, a number of airlines in the US and Europe particularly have expressed interest in larger turboprops to service shorter routes due to their greater fuel efficiency compared to regional jets.