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ATR 42/72

Posted on August 31 2021

ATR 42/72 user+1@localho… Wed, 06/15/2022 - 22:17

The ATR 42 and ATR 72 are a pair of turboprop airplanes produced by European manufacturer Avions de Transport Regional (ATR). Launched in November 1981 when Aeritalia and Aerospatiale—predecessors to Alenia Aermacchi and Airbus, respectively—“merged their separate, but similar, regional aircraft designs into a single effort.” Those designs, designated the AIT 230 by Aeritalia and AS35 by Aerospatiale, had been under development by the respective manufacturers since 1978. Following the signing of the cooperation agreement that launched the ATR program, the ATR 42 was launched on Nov. 4, 1981, with that type making its first flight on Aug. 16, 1984. The first two variants of the ATR 42, the -200 and -300, were certified in by French and Italian regulators—Direction Generale de l’Aviation Civile (DGAC) and Registro Aeronautico Italiano (RAI)—in September 1985, with French regional carrier Air Littoral receiving the first delivery on Dec. 3, 1985. Additional variants of the ATR 42 were certified in March 1988 (-320), July 1995 (-500) and February 1996 (-400).

Following the certification and delivery of the first ATR 42, the manufacturer launched the larger ATR 72 on Jan. 15, 1986, with that type making its first flight nearly three years later on Oct. 27, 1988. Eleven months after that first flight, the first two ATR 72 variants—the -101 and -201—were certified by the DGAC in September 1989. A year to the day after the airframe made its first flight, the first ATR 72 was delivered to Finnair on Oct. 27, 1989. Beyond those first deliveries of the ATR 42 and ATR 72, early large orders for the series included an Aug. 21, 1990, order for 100 airplanes—41 ATR 42s and 59 ATR 72s—from U.S. regional carrier American Eagle. Additional variants of the ATR 72 were certified in December 1989 (-102 and -202), December 1992 (-211 and -212) and January 1997 (-212A).

After the introduction of the first three ATR 42 variants, as well as the first six ATR 72 variants, the “go-ahead” for the -500 series of both airframes was given on June 1, 1993. The first flight of the ATR 42-500—which is uses the same type and commercial designation—took place on Sept. 16, 1994, with that variant subsequently certified in July 1995 and the first delivery being made to Italian regional carrier Air Dolomiti on Oct. 31, 1995. The first updated ATR 72-500 airframe—which is an upgraded ATR 72-212A—made its inaugural flight on Jan. 19, 1996, and was certified in January 1997, with the first delivery, to American Eagle, taking place on July 31, 1997.

More than a decade after the ATR 42-500 and ATR 72-500 variants were introduced, ATR launched another update for both airframes on Oct. 2, 2007, upgrades that were marketed as the ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600. In contrast to the upgrades that were marketed as the ATR 42-500, the -600 upgrades to both the ATR 42 and ATR 72 were not deemed to be a “new aircraft model or variant,” according to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) type certificate data sheet (TCDS) that is common to both types. Rather, what is marketed as the ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600 are simply ATR 42-500 and ATR 72-212A variants that feature upgraded avionics and which are noted in the TCDS as being the “600 version” of those respective variants. Two years after this enhanced airframe was announced, the first ATR 72-600 airframe—an upgraded ATR 72-500—was unveiled at a ceremony in Toulouse, France, with that airframe making its first flight in July 2009. Powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127M engines, the first ATR 42-600 made its inaugural flight from Toulouse on March 4, 2010, a flight that lasted 2 hr. After the completion of a flight-test program that entailed “approximately 75 hr.,” the ATR 72-212A “600 version” received EASA certification on Aug. 10, 2011, with the first airframe featuring the upgraded avionics delivered to Royal Air Maroc. Ten months after the ATR 72-600 was certified, the ATR 42-600—designated the ATR 42-500 “600 version”—was certified by EASA on June 14, 2012, with the first delivery taking place on Nov. 9, 2012, to Tanzanian airline Precision Air Services. 

In addition to the passenger-only variants of the ATR types, passenger-cargo combination (combi) versions of the ATR 42 and ATR 72 are available, with the ATR 42-200, -300 and -320 able to be operated in such a configuration following the incorporation of the certain modifications. Supplementing the combi versions of the ATR 42 and ATR 72 is a new-build, full-cargo version of the ATR 72-600 that was launched with a 50-airplane order—30 firm orders and 20 options—from FedEx Express. When the FedEx Express order was announced in November 2017, the operator said that it expected the first new-build ATR 72-600 freighter would be delivered in 2020. That three-year timeline was met, with the ATR 72-600F making its first flight on Sept. 16, 2020, from Toulouse, and subsequently being certified by EASA on Nov. 30, 2020. The first delivery to FedEx Express took place on Dec. 15, 2020, in Toulouse, with that airframe—Serial No. 1653—leased to ASL Airlines Ireland, an operator that has flown ATR airframes for FedEx since 2000.

Despite the differences between the ATR 42 and ATR 72 in terms of avionics, configuration and maximum passenger capacity, engines and weights, both types share a common type certificate that is held by Avions de Transport Regional in Blagnac, France. As a corporate entity, ATR has two shareholders, Airbus and Leonardo, each of which hold a 50% interest in the company.

ATR42 Variant

Certification Date

ATR42 Variant

Certification Date

ATR 42-200

Sept. 24, 1985

ATR 72-101

Sept. 25, 1989

ATR 42-300

ATR 72-102

Dec. 14, 1989

ATR 42-320

March 4, 1988

ATR 72-201

Sept. 25, 1989

ATR 42-400

Feb. 27, 1996

ATR 72-202

Dec. 14, 1989

ATR 42-500

July 28, 1995

ATR 72-211

Dec. 15, 1992

ATR 72-212

ATR 72-212A

Jan. 14, 1997

Cabin Configurations and Baggage/Cargo/Passenger Capacity

According to the EASA TCDS, the maximum passenger capacity for all ATR 42 variants in a “full passenger configuration” is 60. In the previously mentioned combi configuration, however, that number is reduced to 34. A number of typical configurations for the airframe are promoted by ATR, including a 48-seat layout in which the seats have a 30-in. pitch and a 30-seat configuration that increases the seat pitch to 34 in., with the 48-seat configuration representing the standard configuration of the airframe. Supplementing those all-passenger configurations is a combi configuration option that allows for the cabin to be configured in both full-passenger and combi configurations. Marketed as “Cargo Flex,” a combi-configured ATR 42-600 is promoted as able to accommodate 30 seats and an additional 1,543 lb. of cargo, with that cargo able to be carried in two containers located in the forward portion of the cabin. In addition to those possible cabin configurations, other cabin features available for the ATR 42 include seats that have both weight and passenger-comfort benefits, with two different types of lighter-weight seats promoted as being available. According to ATR, the “lightweight Geven seats” provide operators with “up to [221 lb.] of weight savings,” as well as an “intra-armrest width” of 18 in. Another seat option, described as the “ultra-lightweight Expliseat,” increases the weight savings to 441 lb., while a standalone inflight entertainment (IFE) system—marketed as “Cabinstream”—is also available.

Beyond the space available in the passenger cabin, two baggage compartments—designated forward and rear compartments in the FAA TCDS—are available on the ATR 42 type, with those compartments on the -500 variant certified to accommodate up to 2,046 lb. and 1,693 lb., respectively. ATR’s marketing materials for the ATR 42-600 promote the airframe as having a cargo volume of 339 ft.3 On previous variants of the ATR 42, the maximum load of the forward and aft baggage compartments varied, with the -200 limited to 2,116 lb. in the forward compartment and 846 lb. in the aft compartment. The next two ATR 42 variants to be certified, the -300 and -320, decreased the maximum load of the forward compartment (2,045 lb.), and increased the amount of weight that can be accommodated in the aft compartment (952 lb.).

The maximum passenger capacity of the ATR 72 variants is 74, with the exception of the -212A, which is able to accommodate up to 78 passengers when certain modifications are made to the airframe. According to ATR’s marketing materials, the 78-passenger accommodation is possible in a cabin with seats that have a 28-in. pitch. When the capacity is reduced to 72 seats—with that number of seats representing the standard configuration—the pitch is increased to 29 in., while a combi configuration is promoted as having 44 passenger seats and the ability to carry 6,830 lb. of cargo. Furthermore, the lightweight seat options, as well the standalone IFE system, that are available for the ATR 42-600 are also available for the ATR 72-600.

Despite the fact that the ATR 72-101, -201 and -211 are larger airframes, the maximum load of their forward baggage compartment, at 1,376 lb., is actually decreased in comparison to the ATR 42 variants. The maximum load of baggage in both the forward and aft compartments of all other ATR 72 variants—2,046 lb. and 1,693 lb., respectively—is essentially the same as that of the ATR 42-500; however, there a modification (Mod. 2059) that reduces the maximum load of one of the rear compartments to 1,129 lb. As was the case with the combi-configured ATR 42-600, the Cargo Flex configuration for the ATR 72-600 decreases the cabin’s seating capacity from 72 to 44, while nearly doubling the cargo load and volume. In comparison to the 374-ft.3 cargo volume in a full-passenger configuration, the volume in the combi configuration is increased to 678 ft.3 Similarly, the maximum cargo load is increased from 3,750 lb. to 6,830 lb. As is the case with the ATR 42-600 combi, the increased cargo capacity of the ATR 72-600 is located in the forward portion of the cabin, ahead of the passenger seating. Beyond the additional cargo load and volume, the Cargo Flex configuration is also promoted as giving operators the ability to reconfigure the cabin from a full passenger to combi configuration. According to ATR, that reconfiguration—which removes or reinstalls the front cabin attendant seat, nets, passenger seats and partitions—can be accomplished overnight. In comparison to a combi-configured ATR 42-600, the number of containers that the combi cabin can accommodate is doubled on the ATR 72-600 to “up to four.”

Another cabin option that is available for ATR airframes is one that adds a galley which is marketed as the “Smart Galley.” The upper portion of the galley has features such as a basin, coffee makers, hot jug and hot cup, ovens and a water heater, while the lower portion contains equipment such as a half-size trolley and waste bin. Operator benefits of this galley addition include the ease and speed with which the cabin can be reconfigured to incorporate it, including the fact that the airframe does not need be returned to the manufacturer, nor does the installation require the performance of “major works.” ATR also promotes the galley’s flexibility and modularity, the former of which allows operators to have the capability to “manage modular configurations with more than 180 potential options.” The operational advantages of the galley’s modularity include the fact that it can be “pre-configured” to the needs of a specific operation, while this installation is also marketed as having environmental benefits such as the elimination of the requirement to destroy or dispose of equipment and structures from the cabin while the installation is being performed.

Avionics

As is noted above, what is currently marketed as the ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600 are not additional variants of each type, but rather ATR 42-500 and ATR 72-212A airframes that have upgraded avionics. According to the common EASA TCDS for those types, the “‘600 version’ is the designation to identify [ATR 42-500 and ATR 72-212A] aircraft models having received the New Avionic Suite (NAS) modification, also named as ‘Glass cockpit.’” Those upgraded avionics are provided by French manufacturer Thales and include five 6 X 8-in. color displays, two of which serve as primary flight displays (PFD), two as multi-function displays (MFD) and the fifth as an “engine system and warning display.” Those displays are promoted by ATR as able to be “improve[d] over time through regular software upgrades,” while the engine system and warning display is noted as being able to automatically display electronic checklists which “pop-up the procedure needed at the right time.” The information that can be displayed on the MFD includes airport taxi diagrams, a capability that is marketed for its ability to ease ground operations at large airports. Other avionics capabilities of the 600 versions of the ATR 42 and 72 include engine-out standard instrument departures (SID) and temporary flight plans— features that are meant to make pilot decision-making easier—as well as an electronic flight bag (EFB) that contains documentation, navigation charts and performance software. Supplementing the assistance provided to pilots by the technologies noted below, ATR notes that that the in-production ATR airframes also have reactive windshear technologies that are able to identify wind conditions that could impact an airplane’s performance. The avionics found on these most-recent ATR variants allow for the use of a number of different types of performance-based navigation (PBN), including barometric vertical navigation (Baro-VNAV), localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) and required navigational performance authorization required (RNP AR) to 0.3 nm.

Beyond the avionics improvements that are included on the upgraded ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600, the manufacturer has also developed an enhanced flight vision system (EFVS) that is marketed as ClearVision. The primary component of the ClearVision system, which was designed by Elbit Systems, is a head-mounted display (HMD) that provides a “flight guidance display and runway highlighting,” is promoted as the SKYLENS and which “displays high-resolution” images, information and video on a “high-transparency visor.” According to ATR, the HMD provides decision-making assistance during the takeoff, approach and landing phases of flight, while also “allow[ing] identical operational credits as classic head-up displays” through a reduction in runway visual range (RVR) requirements.

A number of “advanced vision options” are also available, including the combination of the HMD and a synthetic vision system (SVS) which “generates images of terrain and obstacles from a database,” an enhanced vision system (EVS) that “displays [an] augmented outside view in real-time through the use of a camera” and a combined vision system (CVS) that integrates “both EVS and SVS images.” The combination of the HMD with SVS is promoted as having situational-awareness benefits with respect to terrain while in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), mountainous terrain and during flight at night, while the combination of the HMD and EVS is marketed as enhancing pilot decision-making, improving situational awareness “in harsh weather conditions” and further reducing the required RVR. ATR’s documentation for the ClearVision system states that airframes equipped with the HMD and EVS are able to perform approaches without vertical guidance “down to 100 ft.,” while similarly equipped airplanes performing an approach with vertical guidance can use the HMD/EVS combination “until touchdown and rollout,” with the RVR requirement lowered to 1,000 ft. The first operators of ClearVision-equipped ATRs were Drukair of Bhutan and Guernsey-based Aurigny, operators which took delivery of an equipped ATR 42-600 on Oct. 22, 2019, and an equipped ATR 72-600 on Oct. 25, 2019, respectively.

Mission and Performance

While there are no in-production turboprops or regional jets (RJ) that compete with the ATR 42-600, the larger ATR 72-600 can be compared to De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd.’s Dash 8-400 airframe, with some of the specific dimension, passenger capacity and performance figures noted below. With regard to the type of missions that it is capable of performing, ATR markets the larger type as having “proven success” in operations such as cargo—including operators that perform express delivery—inter-island and low-cost. Furthermore, the manufacturer promotes both the ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600 for the conditions in which they can operate—cold weather, high altitude and hot temperature—as well as the airports at which they can operate, such as those with narrow, short or unpaved runways. Specific to the ATR 72-600, ATR highlights the airframe’s ability to operate into airports that require steep approaches, while noting that both the larger and smaller ATR airframes are approved for 120-min. extended operations (ETOPS). From a market perspective, both airframes are promoted for their ability to serve “secondary and tertiary airports,” as well as to “create and develop new routes.”

Comparison: ATR42/72 and Dash-8-400

Type Designation

ATR 42-500

ATR 72-212A

DHC-8--402

Commercial Designation

ATR 42-600

ATR 72-600

Dash 8-400

Maximum Certified Passenger Capacity

60

78

90

Maximum Range (nm)

703

758

1,102

Engine

Pratt & Whitney Canada

PW127E

PW127F

PW127F

PW127M

PW127N

PW150A

Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW)(lb.)

41,005

50,705

67,199

Wingspan

80 ft. 7 in.

88 ft. 9 in.

93 ft. 3 in.

Length

74 ft. 5 in.

89 ft. 1.5 in.

107 ft. 9 in.

Height

24 ft. 11 in.

25 ft. 1 in.

27 ft. 5 in.

In addition to the advertised ranges of the ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600—which are based on the maximum passenger capacity—both the airframes are limited to a maximum operating limit speed and Mach (VMO/MMO) of 250 kt. indicated airspeed (KIAS) and 0.55 Mach, respectively. An additional limitation placed on these airframes is a maximum operating altitude of 25,000 ft. With reference to takeoff and landing performance, the ATR 42-600 has a takeoff distance—based on the airframe’s maximum takeoff weight (MTOW), standard conditions and sea-level altitude—of 3,632 ft. Additionally, despite the fact that it has a maximum landing weight (MLW) that is 9,700 lb. less than ATR 72-600, the smaller ATR 42-600 has a landing field length—based on the basic MLW and sea-level altitude—that is greater, at 3,169 ft., than the comparable figure for the larger 600 series ATR 72 airframe. Assuming the same criteria, the respective figures for the ATR 72-600 are 4,196ft. and 3,002 ft. Based on the MTOW, standard conditions, and sea-level altitude, the rate of climb is 1,851 ft./min. for the current version of the ATR 42, a figure that decreases to 1,355 ft./min. on the ATR 72-600.

Variants

ATR 42 Specifications

Type Designation

ATR 42-200

ATR 42-300

ATR 42-320

ATR 42-400

ATR 42-500

Maximum Certified Passenger Capacity

60

Maximum Range (nm)

703

Engine

Pratt & Whitney Canada

PW120

PW121

PW121

PW121A

PW127E

PW127F

PW127M

Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW)(lb.)

34,725

37,258

39,463

41,005

Usable Fuel (gal./lb.)

(1,514/9,921)*/(1,506/10,031)**

Wingspan

80 ft. 7 in.

Length

74 ft. 5 in.

Height

24 ft. 11 in.

*Normal Refueling with Pre-Selector

**Refueling up to High-Level Indication

ATR 42 Specifications

Type Designation

ATR 42-500

Commercial Designation

ATR 42-600

ATR 42-600S

Maximum Certified Passenger Capacity

60

30-50*

Maximum Range (nm)

703

Engine

Pratt & Whitney Canada

PW127E

PW127F

PW127M

Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW)(lb.)

41,005

Maximum Landing Weight (lb.)

40,344

Maximum Payload (lb.)

11,684

Usable Fuel

1,506 gal./ 10,031 lb.

9,921 lb.

Wingspan

80 ft. 7 in.

Length

74 ft. 5 in.

75 ft. 2 in.

Height

25 ft. 1 in.

       

*Seat count

ATR 72 Specifications

Type Designation

ATR 72-101

ATR 72-102

ATR 72-201

ATR 72-202

ATR 72-211

ATR 72-212

Maximum Certified Passenger Capacity

74

Maximum Range (nm)

Engine

Pratt & Whitney Canada

PW124B

PW127

PW127F

Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW)(lb.)

44,070

48,501

Usable Fuel (gal./lb.)

1,680

Wingspan

88 ft. 9 in.

Length

89 ft. 2 in.

Height

25 ft. 1 in.

ATR 72 Specifications

Type Designation

ATR 72-212A

Commercial Designation

ATR 72-600

ATR 72-600F

Maximum Certified Passenger Capacity

78

Maximum Range (nm)

758

900

Engine

Pratt & Whitney Canada

PW127F

PW127M

PW127N

Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW)(lb.)

50,705

Maximum Landing Weight (lb.)

49,272

Maximum Payload (lb.)

16,645

Usable Fuel (gal./lb.)

(1,683/11,023)*/(1,700/11,133)**

Wingspan

88 ft. 9 in.

Wing Area (ft.2)

657

Length

89 ft. 1.5 in.

Height

25 ft. 1 in.

*Normal Refueling with Pre-Selector

**Refueling up to High-Level Indication

PW120/124/127-Series Engines and Hamilton Sundstrand Propellers

Promoted for its fuel consumption in comparison to similarly sized RJs, both the ATR 42 and ATR 72 are powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW100 series of engines, which are noted as being three-shaft, two-spool engines. According to Pratt & Whitney, the high and low-pressure compressors of the PW100 series are independently powered by “cooled turbine stages,” while the power turbine is coupled to the propeller “through a reduction gearbox” that is “optimized” to enable maximum engine and propeller efficiency. The EASA TCDS also notes that the engines are controlled by a single-channel electronic engine control (EEC) unit that has a “hydro-mechanical back-up.” Variants of the PW120, PW124 and PW127 are certified to power the ATR airframes, with the mechanical power classes of those engine series being 2,100 shp, 2,400 shp and 2,750 shp, respectively. While the approximate length of all three engines is 84 in., the width is either 25 in. (PW120 engines) or 26 in. (PW123/PW124 and PW127 engines), and the height differs between 31 in. (PW120) and 33 in. (PW123/PW124 and PW127). Although it is certified to power both the ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600, the PW127M engine first entered service on the ATR 72-500 variant.

On the earlier ATR 42-200, -300 and -320 variants, the Pratt & Whitney Canada engines powered a pair of Hamilton Sundstrand 14 SF-5 propellers, while the -400 and -500 variants are certified to be equipped with that propeller manufacturer’s 568F-1 propellers, a propeller that is retained by the ATR 72-212A. Other ATR 72 variants are also certified to have Hamilton Sundstrand propellers, with the -101/-201 and -102/-202 approved to have either the 14 SF-11 or 14 SF-11 E. Although the ATR 72-211 and -212 have the option of either the 247 F-1 or 247 F-1E propellers, the -211 and -212 are certified to be equipped with only a single type of Hamilton Sundstrand propeller (the 14 SFL-11). According to ATR, the blade diameter of the 568F-1 propellers certified for both the ATR 42-600 and ATR 72-600 is 12.9 ft.

PW127XT

On Nov. 15, 2021, ATR and Pratt & Whitney Canada announced that the latter company’s PW127M-based PW127XT engine would become “the standard engine for the ATR 72 and 42,” an engine that the airframe manufacturer stated would provide operators with a number of benefits. Those benefits, which according to ATR are the result of the materials and technologies incorporated into the engine, include increases in efficiency and improved maintenance intervals. Indeed, the XT commercial designation stands for extra time, with that additional time being quantified as a 40% increase in the amount of time on wing, allowing for the hot section inspection and engine overhaul intervals to be increased, the latter from 14,000 to 20,000 hr. The reduced maintenance requirements will also provide operators of PW127XT-powered ATR 42 and 72 airplanes with a 20% decrease in maintenance costs of the engine, with Pratt & Whitney stating that in a decade there are “only two scheduled engine events,” assuming 2,000 hr. of flying annually and mission lengths that are typical. The company also notes that the 20,000-hr. engine overhaul interval assumes a “60-min. mission in [a] benign environment.”   

Supplementing the maintenance benefits of the PW127XT, the engine will be able to use a “50% sustainable aviation fuels [SAF] blend”—which is “in line with ATR’s goal of 100% SAF compatibility by 2025”—while the technologies incorporated into the engine improve fuel efficiency by 3%. Further described by Pratt & Whitney Canada as being “purpose-built for the mission it flies,” the engine manufacturer notes that the components which contribute to the engine’s increased efficiency include the high-pressure turbine module, which is new. Both of the currently advertised variants of the engine—the PW127XT-M and PW127XT-N, the former of which will power the ATR airframes—are expected to produce 2,750 shp of mechanical power. As that designation implies, the PW127XT will “build” on the PW127M series, with the upgraded engine also featuring improvements and technologies from Pratt & Whitney Canada’s Next-Generation Regional Turboprop (NGRT) program. Beyond being certified for newly built airplanes, it will also be available for retrofit on existing “[ATR] 500 and 600” airframes, and it is anticipated that the engine will receive regulatory approval during the “second quarter of 2022.”  

ATR 42

As is noted above, the ATR 42 has a smaller fuselage and wingspan than the ATR 72, with corresponding decreases in passenger capacity and performance. Also reduced on all variants of the ATR 42 is the usable fuel capacity, with that type having less than half the usable fuel capacity of the larger airframe. When compared to a 50-seat RJ, ATR promotes the ATR 42 as having a fuel burn advantage of 30%, while the operating cost savings when compared to the same size RJ are marketed as being $1 million per airplane, per year.

ATR 42-600S

In addition to the standard ATR 42-600, ATR launched a short-takeoff and landing (STOL) variant that is marketed as the ATR 42-600S, with the S designation promoting the airframe’s STOL performance. Announced at the 2019 Paris Air Show and officially launched several months later in October 2019, the ATR 42-600S is marketed as having a takeoff distance—based on the same conditions as the ATR 42-600—of 2,992 ft., a reduction of 640 ft. when compared to the non-STOL ATR 42-600. Also based on the same criteria as the standard airframe is the 2,536-ft. landing distance of the ATR 42-600S, a distance that is lowered by 633 ft. According to the airframe manufacturer, airports that have a runway length between 2,625 ft. and 3,281 ft. number “close to 500” worldwide, with this version of the ATR 42 promoted for being able to enhance “regional connectivity.”

Changes to the ATR 42-600S include the addition of an autobrake system that “ensures full breaking power occurs immediately upon landing” and a larger rudder that provides “increased control of the aircraft at lower speed,” with this variant of the ATR 42 also having the ability to “symmetrically deploy its spoilers to improve braking efficiency on landing.” At the time that it was officially announced, ATR noted that they had received 20 commitments from Elix Aviaion Capital and Air Tahiti, the launch lessor and operator, respectively. The ATR 42-600S made its 2-hr. 15-min. first flight from Toulouse Francazal Airport on May 11, 2022, with the airframe that performed that flight—registered as F-WWLY—described as being a “partially configured STOL variant.” Subsequent to the completion of the first test flight, the airframe manufacturer stated that features and hardware that are new—the autobrake, ground spoiler and Multifunctional Computer New Generation (MFC-NG), as well as the “increased takeoff rating systems”—would be evaluated “one at a time.” At the time that partially configured ATR 42-600S flew, ATR also noted that this variant would “enter its final configuration at the end of” 2022 following “the addition of a new larger rudder,” with the program entering the “certification phase in 2023.” While it was originally expected to be certified during “the second half of 2022,” pandemic-related delays have resulted in the entry-into-service date now being expected during late 2024 or “early 2025.”

ATR 72

The ATR 72 has larger dimensions, as well as passenger and usable fuel capacity, with all three noted above. Additionally, while the ATR 72-600 is promoted as having the same operating cost savings as the ATR 42-600—$1 million per airplane per year—that figure is in comparison to the ATR 72’s turboprop competitor rather than an RJ. Other advantages that the larger ATR airframe has in comparison to its turboprop competition include fuel burn, as well as seat and trip costs, with those advantages being 40%, 10% and 20%, respectively. Furthermore, the operating cost advantages in comparison to RJs are promoted by ATR as being “at least” of 40%. According to the manufacturer, it is the ATR 72’s PW127 engines—which it states are “designed for short sectors”—as well as the “optimized speed” and the weight of the airplane, that give it fuel efficiency advantages over other regional airplanes. The changes and upgrades made to the ATR 72 variant that is marketed as the -600 include increases in MTOW, maximum payload and passenger capacity, with the increase in MTOW enabled “mainly through landing gear reinforcements.”

ATR 72-600F

Noted by the manufacturer as being the first new-build ATR “delivered from the factory in a freighter configuration”—as well as the “first ATR 72-600s [to] operate in a cargo configuration”—the ATR 72-600F incorporates a number of changes in comparison to combi and full-passenger configured airframes. Among those changes are a new fuselage that is windowless, and which also features a large cargo door (LCD) and upper-hinged cargo door that are, respectively, located on the forward and rear portions of the fuselage. The forward LCD measures 116 X 71 in., while the upper-hinged cargo door replaces the airframe’s “standard passenger door.” In comparison to the baggage volume noted above for the passenger-configured ATR 72-600, the ATR 72-600F increases the usable volume to 2,666 ft.3, while the maximum structural payload of the airframe is increased to 19,841 lb. and the floor panels are reinforced to 100 lb./ft.2 Assuming an “all-bulk configuration and typical cargo density in the integrator segment,” the range of the airframe is 900 nm.

Further promoted as being a design that is “optimized for freighter operations,” two types of configurations are promoted as being possible: bulk and unit-load device (ULD). According to ATR marketing materials, the features of airframe’s bulk configuration include lateral tracks and attachment points on the floor—as well as “up to nine vertical nets”—with the benefits of the bulk configuration including the ease with which cargo can loaded and optimization of available cabin volume. Three ULD configurations are also available for the ATR 72-600F: one that accommodates seven LD-3 containers and two that carry pallets—five 88 X 108-in. pallets or nine 88 X 62 in. pallets—with that containerized or palletized cargo able to be supplemented by bulk cargo in the aft part of the cabin. In the ULD configuration, the containers and pallets are secured by a Cargo Loading System (CLS). ATR states that the benefits of the ULD configuration—beyond the ability to carry industry-standard ULD—include the fact it is “ideal for outsized items” and allows the airframe’s freight to “interline with larger freighters.”

In addition to the CLS, other interior features of the ATR 72-600F include a cabin liner that has attachment points for nets, cargo panels which are “resistant” and “state-of-the-art LED [light-emitting diode] lighting,” with the cargo area itself noted as being a Class E cargo compartment. Improvements to the positioning of the nets are promoted as “optimizing volume,” while “autonomy on [the] ground” is enabled by battery capacity that has been improved and reliability increased by an air management system which is new.

ATR 42/72 Converted Freighters

Supplementing the new-build ATR 72-600F—as well as the combi configurations available for the ATR 42-200/-300/-320/-500 and ATR 72-202/-212/-212A—ATR also promotes the ability of both types to be converted from passenger to freight configuration, with such airframes being of use to both express and general freighter carriers “in the regional segment.” As is the case with the possible configurations for the -600F, two configuration options are available: a bulk freighter and a large-cargo-door freighter. According to ATR, multiple supplemental type certificates (STC) are available for the conversion of passenger airplanes into the bulk freighters, while only a single STC exists for a large-cargo-door freighter. The standard forward cargo door—which measures 51 X 62 in.—and the presence of vertical nets are the primary features of the bulk freighter that are promoted by ATR, with the benefits of such an airframe including the cost, ease of cargo loading and the amount of available volume. Converted ATR 42s are marketed as having a “typical usable volume” of 1,978 ft.3, while a passenger-to-freighter conversion of an ATR 72 has the same amount of volume as the new build ATR 72-600F.

The benefits of the large-cargo-door freighter conversion include two which are also promoted for the new-build ATR 72 freighter: the size of the LCD and the ability to carry containers and pallets with the previously mentioned CLS. As with the ATR 72-600F, that latter feature includes the ability to carry seven LD3 containers, five 88 X 108 in. pallets and nine 88 X 62 in. pallets, as well as bulk cargo in the aft portion of the cabin. ATR notes that the “typical structural payload capability” of both ATR 42 and ATR 72 airframes that are converted into bulk freighters is higher than LCD freighters, with the exact amount dependent upon the “ATR series and weight variant.” For ATR 42 and ATR 72 bulk freighters, the typical structural payload falls into ranges of 11,700 lb. and 14,000 lb. and 17,400 lb. and 19,200 lb., respectively. Comparable figures for LCD freighter conversions are 11,200-13,700 lb. and 17,000-18,700 lb., with the ranges of the all-bulk configured airframes that are carrying a “typical cargo density in the integrator segment” being 600 nm for the ATR 42 and 800 nm for the ATR 72.

Special-Mission Capabilities

In addition to passenger, combi and all-cargo configured ATR airframes, the ATR 42 and ATR 72 are also utilized by a number of government operators in special-mission roles such as maritime patrol. For that specific mission, the airframes are marketed as the ATR 42MP Surveyor and ATR 72MP, with the specific types of maritime patrol missions able to be performed including anti-illegal immigration, drug trafficking, piracy and smuggling operations; exclusive economic zone patrol, fisheries protection, the monitoring of sea lanes and search and rescue (SAR). Described as being a “derivative of the ATR 72-600 [that is] designed to perform a variety of missions,” from a performance limitation and specifications standpoint, the ATR 72MP retains the same maximum operating altitude and MTOW as the civilian variant, while also being promoted as having an endurance of 10 hr. (plus a 45-min. hold). However, it was the ATR 42 that “was the first multi-mission maritime patrol and SAR platform based on ATR commercial aircraft made by Leonardo,” with that airframe utilized by government operators that include the Italian Coast Guard and Customs Police, as well as the Nigerian Air Force. The launch customer for the ATR 72MP was the Italian Air Force—which designated the airframe P-72A—with the airframe also able to be utilized for anti-submarine warfare and marketed as the ATR 72ASW.

Environmental Performance: Emissions, Fuel Burn and Noise

From an environmental perspective, both the ATR airframes and Pratt & Whitney Canada engines are promoted for their improvements in fuel consumption and decreases in emissions. With respect to the airframe’s engines, Pratt & Whitney Canada states that turboprop airplanes powered by PW100-series engines “consume 25-40% less fuel and produce up to 50% fewer emissions than similar-sized [RJs],” while also be able to utilize biofuel. Based “on an average route of 300 NM” and 2,000 flights per year, the ATR 72-600 is promoted by ATR as producing 40% lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when compared to Bombardier’s CRJ900, as well as Embraer’s E175 and E175-E2. The ATR 72-600 also reduces the amount of CO2 released per airplane per year—also “on [an] average route of 300 NM”—by 4,000 metric tons.

According to ATR, the environmental benefits of both the ATR 42 and ATR 72 are realized because of the inherent efficiency of turboprops on short-haul flights. Indeed, while, from a component standpoint, both a turbine and turboprop engines “use a thermodynamic turbine,” because turboprop engines incorporate a gearbox and “large propeller,” such an engine “moves a greater quantity of air for less thermal power.” The airframe manufacturer notes that turboprop-powered airplanes consume less fuel on takeoff because such an airplane’s acceleration “uses less power,” while turboprops—when operated on shorter flights—are also more efficient because there is no opportunity to climb to higher altitudes or accelerate to higher airspeeds. Another environmental benefit of ATR airframes is their external noise levels, with the noise produced in comparison to a “modern [RJ]” noted as 13 dB less. Additionally, the margin to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Chapter 14 standards is promoted as being 9 dB.

ATR EVO

On May 18, 2022, ATR unveiled its plans for updated versions of the ATR 42 and ATR 72, with the updated airframes—described as the ATR “EVO”—expected to incorporate a number of technologies that yield economics, performance and sustainability improvements. Those improvements are slated to include new engines that will have “a hybrid capability,” an “eco-design” which replaces the current six-blade propellers with eight-blade ones, a cabin that incorporates “biosourced resin,” a new deicing system that is “more electric” and improved systems. According to ATR, the company has “issued a request for information [RFI] to the main engine manufacturers for the development of [a] new powerplant that will combine existing and future-generation engine technology.” Regardless of the engine that is ultimately chosen for the ATR EVO airframes, it must be able to utilize 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) upon entry into service. Beyond utilizing SAF, the airframe manufacturer is also seeking to ensure that the ATR series can be “adapted” to utilize other “propulsion technologies” such as hydrogen. Supplementing the improvements to the cabin, deicing and propulsion systems and propellers, improvements to how pilots operate the airplanes are also possible. Those improvements include flight management system (FMS) upgrades and a full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system, the latter of which would make the ATR “the first commercial turboprop” to have such a system.

While a FADEC system would provide pilot-workload benefits, the sustainability benefits of the ATR EVO airframes include fuel burn that is reduced by 20% in comparison to the current-generation ATR 42 and ATR 72, as well as CO2emissions which are reduced by the same amount in comparison to the current ATR variants. CO2 emissions will also be lowered by 50% when compared to a kerosene-powered regional jet, and, according to ATR, when powered by 100% SAF, the airframe’s “emissions will be close to zero.” Beyond reducing emissions, the reduced fuel burn—when combined with overall maintenance costs that are also lowered by 20%—is described as allowing the ATR EVO to have “double-digit operating cost savings.” One of the benefits of the operating cost reductions is that they allow airlines to profitably “serve thin routes,” resulting in “more connectivity.” The previously noted “biosourced materials” which are planned for the cabin will be lighter, while the “next-generation” airframes will also have time-to-climb performance that is improved. At the time the ATR EVO was announced, the company stated that its plan was to launch the “program by 2023,” with entry into service possible by 2030.

Program Status/Operators

Both the ATR 42 and ATR 72 are produced at company’s facilities at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in southern France, facilities that are located alongside those of shareholder Airbus.

References

  • AWIN Article Archives
  • ATR, De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. and Pratt & Whitney Canada Commercial Materials
  • FAA TCDS (ATR), EASA TCDS (ATR and PW100 Series) and Transport Canada TCDS (DHC-8 Series 400)
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Commercial Aviation
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