June 20, 2013
Credit: ATR (72-500 photo)
ATR seems to be gaining more support from its shareholders to launch a 90-seat turboprop. “Airbus is, together with its partners, studying the developments in the regional market,” says ATR Chairman and Airbus Executive Vice President Strategy and Marketing Kiran Rao, adding, “The most likely outcome will be a new generation of turboprops with increased size, greater comfort and significant improvement in efficiency.”
ATR has put together the technical details and a business plan of a 90-seat turboprop and submitted the $2 billion project it to shareholders EADS and Finmeccanica.
Launching the proposed 90-seat turboprop is of “fundamental importance” to ATR, ATR’s CEO Filippo Bagnato said today at the Paris air show. “We have been able to sell more than 300 aircraft since the launch of the (upgraded ATR 72 and 42) -600 versions. The market pays attention to manufacturers that renew their aircraft.”
Finmeccanica agrees. “If EADS is not interested in developing the aircraft with us, we will find alternatives,” Guiseppe Giordo, CEO of Finmeccanica’s civil aircraft subsidiary Alenia Aermacchi told Bloomberg. “There is a huge market potential for a turboprop larger than the ATR 72.”
The turboprop manufacturer argues there is a market of up to 1,300 units for the proposed aircraft. The demand will partly come from airlines that are moving from jets to turboprops, ATR argues.
“The jet manufacturers are moving towards 100 seats. For break-even they need to fly in regional markets with larger aircraft.” That could open up a niche that can be filled with a newly designed turboprop. Bagnato also believes that its existing customers would be upgauging their aircraft.
Unlike ATR, rival Bombardier has no plans for a turboprop larger than its Q400.
ATR recorded 173 orders and commitments so far this year, 83 of which are firm. A big part of the airframers’ success is due to the fact that it made inroads in the lessor market. Nordic Aviation Capital earlier this week placed orders for up to 91 aircraft—36 firm—and Air Lease Corporation bought five ATR 72-600s.