By Chen Lin and Jamie Freed
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Brazilian planemaker Embraer expects to decide late this year or early next year on whether to launch a new turboprop plane that could enter service around 2027, its commercial aviation head said on Wednesday.
Embraer is also in talks with Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and GE about providing an engine for the plane, with a decision expected in the second half of this year, Embraer Commercial Aviation President Arjan Meijer said.
"It will be improved but conventional engine technology on the aircraft," he told Reuters by phone from the Singapore Airshow.
He declined to comment on how the fuel efficiency was likely to compare to that of existing turboprops in an industry dominated by ATR, a joint venture between Airbus and Leonardo.
The other Western turboprop maker, De Havilland Canada, has completed all of its ordered Dash 8-400 planes, so production is being paused, raising broader questions over turboprop demand. ATR and De Havilland both use Pratt & Whitney engines.
Meijer said the proposed Embraer turboprop would be less noisy than existing planes and have 70- and 90- seat versions, with the larger one carrying more passengers than the ATR72.
He said he could not reveal the company's programme cost estimate, but added that it was in talks with several financial and industrial partners for development.
Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace President Chris Cholerton said his company, which is weighted toward widebody aircraft engines, was working to put forward a compelling tubroprop engine proposal to Embraer.
"I think we would see significant reductions in fuel burn, and therefore we are very positive about the potential of that product," he told reporters at the airshow.
Rolls-Royce is also conducting an engine study for Boom Supersonic, which plans a 55-seat supersonic passenger jet.
Cholerton said Rolls-Royce remained engaged with Boom but emphasised it was a study, not a contract, and considerations such as the size of the market for the jet had to be taken into account.
Pratt & Whitney and GE did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Embraer's turboprop plans.
(Reporting by Chen Lin in Singapore and Jamie Freed in Sydney; additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal. Editing by Gerry Doyle)