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.
Irish carrier Aer Arann took delivery of its first ATR 72-600 aircraft last Friday. The May 3 delivery marked the first of eight of the new -600 model that the airline has ordered to replace its existing fleet of ATR72-200s and smaller ATR42-300s.
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.
The National Transportation Safety Board issued four safety recommendations after its investigation into the January 27, 2009 loss-of-control crash of an Empire Airlines ATR 42-320 at Lubbock Airport (LBB), Texas. The NTSB said the flight crew failed to monitor and maintain a safe airspeed during an approach in icing conditions.
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.
ATR’s 50-seat 42-600 turboprop was certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) late last month, bringing to fruition a test campaign that saw the larger, 70-seat ATR 72-600 gain certification in May last year. The aircraft have been updated with glass cockpits and modern avionics systems along with other refinements, including the Armonia cabin designed by Italian car designer Giugiaro.
The 46-seat ATR 42-600 regional turboprop received EASA certification late last month, ending a 125-hour flight-test program that began on April 5, 2010, using a single prototype. The smaller of a pair of updated turboprop models introduced by ATR over the past 13 months, the ATR 42-600 drew on testing results from earlier trials on its more popular, 68-seat sibling–the ATR 72-600, which gained its certification in May 2011.
Anyone doubting the staying power of turboprop aircraft in the regional airline sector probably should have visited Toulouse on May 3 to see ATR delivering the 1,000th example of its twin turboprop series.
An ATR 72-201 operated by Russian regional airline UTair crashed this morning shortly after taking off from Tyumen in Western Siberia, killing at least 31 of the 43 occupants, including the entire four-person crew. Flight 120 came down in a snow-covered field near the town of Korkovka at around 7:50 a.m. local time, minutes after taking off for a 400-mile flight to the oil town of Surgut.
Toulouse, France-based regional turboprop manufacturer ATR is pressing ahead with plans to increase its production rate progressively over the next three years while preparing to add a larger, 90-seat model to its product line, which now consists of the 50-seat ATR 42-600 and 74-seat ATR 72-600.