FedEx Express has placed a firm order for 30 new ATR freighter turboprops, with options for a further 20 aircraft.
The global transport company has ordered the ATR 72-600F that will be delivered from the factory in a freighter configuration featuring a windowless fuselage, a forward large cargo door and a rear upper hinged cargo door.
Deliveries are due to begin in 2020, ATR said on Wednesday (European time).
FedEx Express president and chief executive David Cunningham said the company had worked with ATR to develop this new variant of the ATR 72-600, which included “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,” Cunningham said.
FedEx Express is an existing operator of ATR aircraft, with the ATR 42-300F, 42-320F and 72-200F already in the fleet.
ATR said the FedEx Express ATR 72-600Fs would be the first new ATRs to be delivered directly from the factory as freighters.
Featuring reinforced floor panels, the ATR 72-600F will have bulk capacity of 74.6 cubic metres, ATR said, was capable of accommodating up to seven LD3 containers, five 88” x 108” pallets, or nine 88” x 62” pallets.
ATR chief executive Christian Scherer said the aircraft in cargo configuration would deliver “an outstanding service, both serving small communities and feeding larger freighters”.
“Their selection of this new aircraft is the result of a deep technical and economic analysis,” Scherer said.
“The ATR 72-600F is the only new large regional aircraft available on the market for freighter operations. We are convinced that, with its use by FedEx Express, it will become the new benchmark for regional air cargo operations.”