ATR has gained EASA certification for its new ATR 72-600 following nearly two years of flight testing, the Franco-Italian manufacturer announced this morning. A more powerful and capable version of the 72-500, the new 68-seat turboprop flew more than 150 hours during 75 test flights. The company plans to deliver the first production airplane to Royal Air Maroc early this summer, likely during a ceremony at next month’s Paris Air Show.
Powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney PW127M turboprops, the airplane offers improved fuel consumption and maximum payload, as well as more power. Perhaps more significantly, however, it carries a new Thales glass avionics suite with five LCD screens, new communication, navigation, monitoring, flight management (FMS), automatic pilot and alert management systems and a new MPC computer system (including aircraft maintenance and protection functions).
ATR conducted the test campaign mainly in Toulouse, France, although the aircraft also traveled to Tarbes and Agen, France; Lugano, Switzerland; and Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. While in Tarbes and Agen, ATR validated functioning of the automatic pilot system, notably in high wind conditions. In Lugano, it tested the ATR 72-600 on steep landing strips (runway slope 6.65 degrees). At Charles de Gaulle Airport, ATR checked the navigation management systems (radio, SMS, GPS, RNP) in traffic conditions characteristic of a busy major airport.
Meanwhile, the ATR 72-600’s smaller sibling, the new ATR 42-600, has flown some 60 test hours. ATR expects to win certification for that version by the end of the year and deliver the first example early next year to Air Tahiti.
Since launching the program in October 2007, ATR has received orders for a total of 141 Series 600 aircraft.