Embraer Considers Building a New Turboprop Plane Unveiled- announced at Aviation Club UK – Article by Robert Wall

Embraer Considers Building a New Turboprop Plane  Thursday, September 14, 2017 03:10:00 PM (GMT)

By Rober Wall      LONDON — One of the world’s biggest plane makers, Embraer SA, is in talks with airlines about potentially developing a turboprop regional airliner amid signs demand in the U.S. for such aircraft may be ready to rebound.      The company this week hosted two days of talks in Europe with airlines from around the world to gauge their interest in a new plane to satisfy demand for the next 20 to 30 years, said John Slattery, president of Embraer Commercial Aviation. “We are at the early stages of assessing what the business case could be,” he said Thursday.      The plane principally would compete with Canada’s Bombardier Inc. and ATR the European turboprop maker owned by Airbus SE and Italy’s Leonardo SpA.      Mr. Slattery said current turboprop designs now being sold are “decades old” potentially opening the door for a plane featuring a new airframe, engines and other enhancements. “We are serious about it,” he told the Aviation Club in London.      The Brazilian aircraft maker is best known for making 70-seat to 100-seat regional jets heavily used on routes with not enough demand to warrant operating larger Boeing Co. or Airbus planes.      Mr. Slattery said the feedback from the so called airline advisory board was instructive. Plane makers typically hold such meetings to get customer feedback and refine their aircraft concepts before formally offering new aircraft designs for sale.      Embraer would likely introduce more than one version to cover different passenger numbers. The exact sizes haven’t been defined yet. He wouldn’t say when Embraer may decide whether to introduce a new turboprop plane.      Turboprops tend to fly fewer passengers on shorter distances. But they typically burn less gas than their regional jet cousins offering airlines a way to cut their fuel bill. Turboprops fell out of favor in the U.S. because passengers generally preferred jets they viewed as more comfortable and modern.      But after a prolonged orders lull, ATR, which has the largest market share, said it has won a preliminary 20 aircraft deal with Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Silver Airways Corp. The first of the planes, being introduced through a plane rental company, could be delivered before year-end, an official for the plane maker said.      Mr. Slattery said the U.S. market for smaller airliners for now likely will remain focused on regional jets, though new turboprop technology could help spur a renaissance.      ATR projects a demand for more than 2,500 turboprops globally through 2035. The company also has considered launching a more than 90-seat turboprop, larger than its existing models, though the company held off on committing to such a design.      Embraer built turboprops from the mid-1980s through the 1990s, though more recently has focused on building regional and private jets. The newest generation of its regional jets is due to enter service next year.      Write to Robert Wall at robert.wall@wsj.com