Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) could enter the regional turboprop segment as early as next year, if it proceeds with the launch of a 90-seat aircraft it is currently evaluating. The company had rejected the idea of a regional jet due to the crowded market already existing with segment leaders Embraer and Bombardier being joined by new aircraft from Mitsubishi, Sukhoi and AVIC.
KAI would have the added advantage of being the first manufacturer in the 90-seat segment ahead of Bombardier and ATR. Both companies produce 70-seat turboprops and have been evaluating the 90-seat market for several years, but have yet to launch programs. ATR has reportedly been discussing with General Electric and Pratt & Whitney Canada a new engine for a large turboprop that could enter service in 2016.
Korea Aerospace Industries currently builds military training aircraft and commercial aircraft components, and is looking to expand its civil aircraft to include complete aircraft. The company is promoting its four-seat KC-100 proof-of-concept aircraft, which is expected to make its first flight next year.