ATR took its new ATR 72-600F purpose-built regional freighter on its first flight on Wednesday from its Saint-Martin site in Toulouse, France, the company said in a statement. The flight took off at 2 pm local time and lasted two hours. During the flight, crewmembers onboard performed a number of tests to measure the new aircraft’s flight envelope and flight performance. ATR plans to deliver the first of the new model by year-end to FedEx Express, which placed a firm order for 30 aircraft and reserved options on another 20 in November 2017.
According to ATR, the new cargo aircraft will offer a number of unique advantages over converted passenger airplanes. A large cargo door remains from the original design and the same wide cross-section carried in all ATR aircraft will allow it to accommodate bulk cargo and industry-standard pallets and containers. Meanwhile, modern, upgradable avionics “futureproofs” the ATR-600F’s state-of-the-art cockpit, stressed the company.
The airplane flies to a range of 900 nm and carries a maximum structural payload in its Class E cargo compartment of 19,600 pounds and a useable volume of 2,666 cubic feet.
Other features include an aft upper-hinged cargo door in place of a passenger door, a windowless fuselage, reinforced floor panels, a cabin liner with net attachment points, cargo loading system (CLS) capability, and integrated LED lighting.
“The arrival of this new freighter further cements ATR’s leadership position in the regional freighter market where ATR cargo aircraft already represent a third of the in-service regional freighter fleet,” said the company in a statement.