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PLANEMAKER HOPES TO REVERSE FAA BAN

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The Franco-Italian maker of ATR planes called the U.S. government ban on its turboprop commuter aircraft unjustified and said it would conduct tests in California to prove it.

Avion de Transport Regional said Saturday that it "shares the FAA's worries" but suggested that the Federal Aviation Administration overreacted by grounding ATR-72 and ATR-42 planes in icy weather.The FAA said its decision was based on the company's own tests showing that ice could pose a hazard if it built up on the planes' wings. The FAA suspects icing caused the Oct. 31 crash in Roselawn, Ind., of an American Eagle ATR-72. Sixty-eight people were killed.

ATR said the planes meet FAA and French standards. The icing and wind tests conducted by the company "furnish no basis that can justify the measures taken by the FAA," it said.

"We're going to do everything we can to get the Federal Aviation Administration to reverse its verdict," ATR Chairman Henry-Paul Puel told a news conference later Saturday. "We're not going to roll over that easily."

Puel said "high-risk" tests would be carried out at Edwards Air Force Base in California in the next few days, simulating atmospheric conditions that preceded the Indiana crash.

The tests will involve a tanker dropping water on an ATR-42, Puel said.

More than 100 flights were canceled in Chicago alone within hours of Friday's FAA order, which could affect as many as 15 percent of the seats available on regional air carriers. Some airlines plan to shift the affected planes to warmer parts of the nation.

Nine U.S. airlines fly 111 of the 40-seat ATR-42s and 42 of the 66-seat ATR-72s.

Sixty-two companies worldwide fly 269 ATR-42s and 129 ATR-72s.