Regional turboprop manufacturer ATR has completed the first successful flight of its new ATR 72-600F regional freighter.
The aircraft, the freight variant of its ATR 72-600 passenger aircraft, took off from Toulouse airport and flew for roughly two hours. ATR’s crew onboard performed a number of tests on board to measure the new aircraft’s flight envelope and flight performance during the flight.
The first flight took place from ATR’s production site at Saint-Martin-du-Touch, just west of Toulouse in France and connected to the southern edge of Toulouse Blagnac Airport. A statement by ATR said the twin-turboprop will offer “a number of unique advantages to operators,” including an avionics suit which can be continuously upgraded.”
Freighter offers “futureproof” cockpit
ATR added this would futureproof the -600F’s cockpit by allowing cargo airlines to benefit from future innovations which could enhance the aircraft’s efficiency.
The statement added: “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.”
The first delivery of the ATR 72-600F will be to American courier and delivery giant FedEx Express – the world’s largest cargo airline and express transportation company. The delivery of the plane is part of a firm order for 30 aircraft, plus 20 options, which was placed in November 2017. The ATR 72-600F will be FedEx’s 43rd ATR aircraft within its fleet.
FedEx: ATR 72-600F will play “important role” in global network
Donald Colleran, President and CEO, FedEx Express said “ATR aircraft have been successfully operating in FedEx service for many years. We worked with ATR to develop this new aircraft, which include special features to help us grow our business, especially in the air freight market where shipments are larger and heavier. The 72-600F will play an important role in our global network by helping us deliver fast, economical service to small and medium sized markets.”
Turboprops emit 40 per cent less emissions than similar sized regional jets, offering a more sustainable approach to flying while offering regions an opportunity to be a part of a connected world and supporting the health and wealth of regional communities.
With e-commerce booming and ‘time to customer’ for products becoming increasingly crucial, ATR said regional freighters would have a key role to play in the networks and fleets of transportation and logistics companies.
ATR aircraft said domestic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic was a driving force with more than 60 per cent of its fleet now flying. The company added that many communities all over the world depended on ATR aircraft for transport and deliveries.