In one of his first appearances as new chief executive of ATR, a somewhat hesitant Stéphane Mayer announced new orders from Berjana Airlines of Malaysia (for four ATR 72-500s) and from Total Linhas Aereas of Brazil for three ATR 42-500s, two 72-500s and five options. In addition, he said that Tanzania’s Precision Air Services had taken another option for an ATR 42-500, to add to the six firm orders placed last year, and another existing customer, AZAL, had added another firm order for an ATR 42-500.
This, said Mayer, brought the total haul for this Paris Air Show to 53 firm orders and 15 options, when added to the recently announced orders from Cebu Pacific (six ATR 72-500s with eight options), Swiftair (three ATR 72-500s), Naysa (two ATR 72-500s) and Islas Airways (six ATR 72-500s).
Having come to Le Bourget in 2005 with 50 orders, and to the Farnborough show last year with 50, Mayer said people could now see that “these 53 orders are confirmation that the trend is solid.”
Mayer appeared with the man he replaced on June 1, Filippo Bagnato, who has taken up a new position as chairman of the board of ATR. Bagnato has presided over the manufacturer, which is a 50/50 joint venture between Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica and EADS of France, over a three-year period, which has seen an upsurge in demand for turboprop aircraft–a reversal in fortune due in the main to a significant increase in fuel costs.
To ensure this trend continues, ATR is taking no chances as it fends off its chief competitor, Bombardier’s Dash 8 and regional jets. Its forecast is for 1,400 new turboprop deliveries over the next 10 years, said Mayer, based on airlines realizing the greater efficiencies of turboprops. For example, an ATR 72-500 burns 1,670 tons of fuel a year compared with a similarly sized regional jet burning 2,570 tons on the same 300-nm sector.
He also believes that the environmental debate will favor turboprops, with the fuel burn per passenger being less than a car on a similar journey.
ATR is also working hard to enhance its aircraft, in particular the cabin (an example of its new cabin can be seen in the static park, fitted in a Kingfisher ATR aircraft), while it is also evaluating supplier proposals for a new cockpit avionics suite and has a future cabin in the conceptual design stage. A key focus is on further reductions in cabin noise to reduce that advantage presently enjoyed by regional jets.