ATR has gained EASA certification for its new ATR 72-600 following nearly two years of flight testing, the Franco-Italian manufacturer announced on May 31. 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 the Paris Air Show.
Powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada 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), autopilot and alert management systems and a new MPC computer system (including aircraft maintenance and protection functions).
ATR conducted the test campaign mainly in Toulouse, 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 autopilot, notably in high winds. In Lugano, it tested the ATR 72-600 on steep (6.65-degree slope) runways. At Charles de Gaulle Airport, ATR validated the communication and 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 year-end and to 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.