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By Tim Hepher
DUBLIN, May 10 (Reuters) - Brazil's Embraer is in talks with potential partners in India and elsewhere over proposals for a new turboprop aircraft, which it could launch in the middle of 2023, the planemaker's commercial chief said on Tuesday.
Embraer is also in detailed talks with engine makers about the proposed new regional airplane, which would seek to penetrate a market dominated by Franco-Italian ATR , Embraer Commercial Aviation Chief Executive Arjan Meijer told Reuters at the Airline Economics conference.
Embraer has been discussing returning to the turboprop sector since 2017 as it looks to expand its portfolio.
It said in 2020 it could opt for a combination of industrial and financial backing, though some analysts expect a more traditional approach based on risk-sharing deals with suppliers.
"We're powering on with that," Meijer said. "That's going to be a big decision we have to make. For the launch we are looking at mid-2023," he added.
Such a plane could enter service in late 2027 or early 2028, he said in an interview.
Embraer has issued a request for proposals to engine makers and expects to make a decision by the end of the year.
The Brazilian planemaker earlier announced the first leasing customer, Nordic Aviation Capital, for a project to convert Embraer E-Jet airliners to freighters
NAC and Embraer have reached an agreement on 10 aircraft with first aircraft in 2024.
Embraer sees a total market for 700 such conversions in the next 20 years and aims to capture 20% of that, Meijer said.
"Cargo is the big thing right now. We all order more from home so there are a lot more deliveries to your front door. The pandemic has accelerated these trends across the world," he added.
Like most manufacturers, Embraer is seeing supply chain problems but expects that to result in supply chains for manufacturing and other industries being shortened overall.
That, in turn, should boost demand for shorter trips that are suited to the regional market served by Embraer, Meijer said. (Reporting by Tim Hepher, Editing by Conor Humphries and Bernadette Baum)