Hailing an exceptional last two years that have accounted for fully 20 percent of all the 1,250 ATR twin turboprop airliners sold to date, ATR North America sales and marketing vice president Mark Neely pointed out how evenly distributed the European airframer’s customers are geographically.
Despite the difficulty ATR has encountered in penetrating the U.S. turboprop market, company CEO Filippo Bagnato continues to express optimism that the Franco-Italian partnership will experience a resurgence in what perhaps represents its final frontier of a sort. Now controlling some 60 percent of the market for 50- to 90-seat airplanes based on unit sales backlogs, the last Western maker of 50-seat-category turboprops sees itself as a potential lifeline for small U.S. cities and communities that can no longer support the services of regional jets of any size.
Although an RFP has yet to be issued, Alenia says it is delighted by the announcement of Malaysian defense minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at LIMA 2013 that a Maritime Patrol System (MPS) is now the main acquisition priority for that country’s armed forces. The Italians believe the ATR 72MP would be a “natural choice.” The Malaysian requirement is estimated at between six and 12 aircraft.
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 and with a big jump from $500 million in 2005.
Mumbai-based Jet Airways last month announced the planned induction of five leased ATR 72-600s into its fleet. Scheduled to launch service with the first of the new 68-seat turboprops by the end of last year, Jet Airways said it expects to accept all five Gecas-sourced airplanes by the end of this March. The airline’s domestic expansion strategy centers on serving more so-called Tier II and Tier III destinations, according to Jet Airways COO Sudheer Raghavan.
Austria’s Farnair Training began operating a new Axis full-flight simulator for the ATR 42-300 and ATR 72-500 last month at its facility in Neusiedl am See, near the Hungarian border. Situated 25 nm from Vienna and 16 nm from Bratislava, the facility offers easy access to both those cities’ airports.
A new Japanese regional airline called Link plans to place the first of three new 70-seat ATR 72-600s into service during next year’s fourth quarter, marking the introduction of the Franco-Italian turboprops into a market until recently held captive by rival manufacturer Bombardier.
Appearing at the Japan Aerospace Exhibition, held in Nagoya from October 9 to 14, Link said it plans to lease the airplanes, but as of press time it remained unclear whether or not they would come from an existing ATR customer.
A shop supervisor for Aircraft Transparencies Repair (ATR) and Transparencies Engineering Group (TEG) is the latest employee convicted in a trial stemming from an aircraft parts conspiracy. Dennis Romero was convicted in U.S. District Court, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for his participation in the conspiracy. The same jury acquitted three lower-level ATR mechanics and a salesperson. A separate mechanic, Hermes Reyes, pleaded guilty before the start of the trial.
Francisca Diaz, former employee of Aircraft Transparencies Repair (ATR) and Transparencies Engineering Group (TEG), has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to mail fraud in conjunction with a scheme involving the false representation that aircraft windows had been overhauled properly when they had not.
ATR announced more than $600 million worth of firm orders at the show yesterday, led by an eight-unit deal with Taiwan’s TransAsia for ATR 72-600s. Meanwhile, the Franco-Italian manufacturer logged a separate pair of orders, each for two ATR 72-600s, from Air Lease Corporation and Lao Airlines.