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ATR places bid for a decade’s demand with -600 turboprop

 - November 6, 2007, 6:52 AM

Avions de Transport Regional (ATR) announced early last month that it is launching -600 series versions of its ATR 42 and 72 twin turboprop regional airliners. The aircraft are to be “progressively introduced” during the second half of 2010.

The new models will feature what ATR CEO Stéphane Mayer described as “the most up-to-date integrated avionics for a turboprop”: more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127M engines, greater payload and performance (including for hot-and-high operations) and LED lighting inside the cabin and externally for navigation and anti-collision lights.

The Thales avionics will include five 6- by 8-inch LCD color displays–two primary flight displays, two multifunction displays and one engine systems and warning display. The -600 series ATRs will be capable of Cat IIIA approaches (50-foot decision height) and RNP. The glass cockpit will display flight information, navigation data, weather radar, terrain awareness warning system, aircraft collision avoidance system and ADS-B.

The PW 127M engine will be standard on both the ATR 42-600 and the ATR 72-600 and is expected to be certified by the end of this year. This enhanced version provides the ATR 72-600 with an increased power rating that will yield improved hot-and-high performance and increase one-engine-out ceiling by around 1,000 feet.

Compared to current optional design weights, the ATR 72-600 will have a 600-pound increase in mtow and maximum zero fuel weight, as well as optional payload increases of 440 pounds. ATR (Stand W112) said these increases will improve payload and performance, allowing operators to cope with increasing demands of passenger weights and baggage.

According to Mayer, the -600 series ATRs are the result of continuous product improvement to meet market demands. He said the new models are vastly different from earlier versions, with many innovations resulting from operators’ experience and new technologies. They also are designed to offer a high degree of commonality in several areas, notably pilot training.

While ATR has added electronic flight bags, multipurpose computers, ACARS,
in-flight entertainment and short-field performance improvements to the aircraft currently coming off the assembly line, the -600s also will feature new communication and navigation equipment and an integrated aircraft maintenance system.

“The next ten years’ forecast for the turboprop market is for a requirement of more than 1,400 aircraft. This provides a solid basis for ATR to continue its investment in improvement and developing our [products],” Mayer concluded. 

Strong Market for Regional Turboprops

Toulouse-based ATR, a joint venture between Alenia Aeronautica and EADS, claims a backlog of about 180 aircraft and sees a market for 1,400 regional turboprops over the next 10 years.

According to John Moore, ATR’s head of sales, U.S. airlines have begun to take another look at the viability of turboprops because current fuel prices are a deterrent to operating regional jets. Since the beginning of 2005, the French-Italian manufacturer has sold 230 new aircraft, more than 40 percent of them in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and especially in the emerging markets of India, Pakistan and central Asian republics such as Azerbaijan. In the first half of this year alone, ATR sold 63 aircraft (plus 25 options), equalling its total for all of 2006.

Deliveries rose from 15 aircraft in 2005 to 24 in 2006. This year, the manufacturer expects to produce a total of 44 units, a number that could increase to between 60 and 64 in 2008.