ATR Ramps Up Production Again

 - January 28, 2013, 11:50 AM
ATR plans to produce 80 airplanes this year at its expanded production facilities in Toulouse, France. (Photo: Ian Sheppard)

ATR has confirmed that it will further boost production this year and present a business case to its shareholders for a new 90-seat model.

While addressing journalists at the company’s base in Toulouse, southern France, CEO Filippo Bagnato said that ATR had recorded a “good” level of orders in 2012 (firm orders for 74 aircraft and options on 41), worth $2.6 billion at list prices. Meanwhile, revenue increased to a record $1.44 billion, up 11 percent on 2011 from $500 million in 2005.

“We would like to achieve orders for around 80 aircraft [this year],” said Bagnato, while work continues to increase production to a planned 80 aircraft a year, following a substantial expansion of production facilities. Last year ATR produced 64 airplanes, 10 more than in 2011 (when it introduced its new -600 Series).

ATR has built a finishing line adjacent to the main assembly line, using the former Airbus A300 assembly area. “With the 64 airplanes that we delivered in 2012, we were satisfied and the initial problems with the supply chain are now overcome 80 percent,” added Bagnato. “Based on the 2012 experience I can confirm in 2013 we will go for 80 airplanes…I think we will achieve the $2 billion turnover level in 2014, when we will deliver 90 airplanes.”

Proclaiming the ATR 72-600 and ATR 42-600 models (which entered service in mid-2011 and mid-2012, respectively) “really well appreciated by the market,” Bagnato reported the -600 order book had reached 286 by the end of last year, at which time approximately 60 entered service with 16 airlines.

Meanwhile, the company awaits consent from shareholders EADS and Alenia Aeromacchi to offer a new 90-seat design. Bagnato waited to address the subject until the last slide in his presentation, showing a silhouetted aircraft with winglets and eight-blade propellers. “Now I think we have a first serious set of market economics and I think in 2013 our shareholders have at least a good business case to discuss,” he said.

Bagnato confirmed a desire for a single engine core for all three models–the 48-seat ATR 42, 68-seat ATR 72 and the new 90-seater. GE, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Snecma have each offered to supply the engines. Plans call for a new airframe and not a stretch, notwithstanding the company’s expectations that sales of 70-seaters will still account for 49 percent of the turboprop airliner market, and a recognition that commonality stood as a key requirement.