The manufacturer ATR said it can start developing low-emission technologies from 2021. The company, which has been producing regional turboprops since the 1980s, revealed the plan to Flight Global this week. A partnership between Airbus and Leonardo, ATR said it is awaiting a decision from its parent companies to begin studies.
Chief Executive Officer Stefano Bortoli also said that the ATR 42 and 72 aircraft are ideal platforms for testing new technologies, but he preferred to make it clear that the preference for the use of hydrogen revealed by Airbus does not mean that this is the only way.
ATR’s CEO believes that hybrid-electric propulsion technology is the most promising, but believes it is too early to choose the best fuel to be used on these aircraft.
In June, the French government announced plans to support a decarbonized regional plane in 2035, which involves investing in Airbus projects in addition to other manufacturers in the country.
Although it is headquartered in Toulouse, alongside Airbus, ATR is a joint venture with a 50% stake in the Italian group Leonardo.
The aerospace giant last week unveiled three concepts for hydrogen powered propellers, including an ATR-like turboprop.
According to the planmaker, clean fuel would be the most promising technology to reduce emissions since the evolution of the batteries would not allow an adequate performance with the use of electricity.
ATR is currently the leader in the regional turboprop aircraft market, but it may win new competitors such as Embraer, which studies an aircraft with up to 100 seats.