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ATR board formally authorises launch of 42-600S turboprop

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 10, 2019

Turboprop maker ATR’s board of directors have formally given the green light for a short takeoff and landing (STOL) variant of its 42-600 aircraft.

While ATR first began work on the aircraft, designated 42-600S, in 2017 and began accepting orders earlier in 2019, the aircraft had not been officially launched until Wednesday (European time), when the company announced it had “received authorisation from its board of directors”.

ATR chief executive Stefano Bortoli said there was huge potential in the 50-seat market.

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“Adding the ATR 42-600S to our family makes total sense and paves the way for the company’s future,” Bortoli said in a statement.

“The ATR 42-600S could help airlines widen their horizons, as it can reach up to around 500 new airports across the globe.”

The 42-600S was designed to takeoff with a full passenger load from runways as short as 800 metres. Currently, ATR quotes a 1,025m takeoff distance for an ATR 42-600 with a max passenger load at ISA and sea level.

The STOL variant would open up the ATR 42 to a lot of smaller regional airfields in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the South Pacific and elsewhere.

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ATR said the 42-600S would use the same engines as the ATR 42 and larger ATR 72 aircraft.

Pilots would be able to select between the ATR 42 and ATR 72 engine ratings, which allowed for increased power for short runway operations.

There was also a larger rudder to allow for increased control of the aircraft at lower speeds, as well as an autobrake system that would ensure full braking power would occur immediately on landing, ATR said.

Finally, ATR said the 42-600S would be able to “symmetrically deploy its spoilers to improve braking efficiency on landing”.

A file image of a current model ATR 42-600. (ATR)
A file image of a current model ATR 42-600. (ATR)

ATR has previously forecast a need for some 1,200 turboprops in the 30-50 seat category over the next 20 years.

And at this point it was the only game in town for airlines looking for this size of aircraft.

In an Australian context, the ATR 42-600S could be significant for Lord Howe Island Airport, located about 425nm east of Sydney in the Pacific Ocean. The airport has a single runway in an east-west orientation that is 866m in length, which limits the types of aircraft that can operate there.

Currently, QantasLink schedules up to 19 flights a week to Lord Howe Island from Sydney, as well as some seasonal services from Port Macquarie, with 36-seat Dash 8 Q200 turboprops, the smallest aircraft type in its fleet.

While the standard ATR 42-600 was able takeoff from Lord Howe Island currently, its payload would be limited to around 36 passengers, it was understood.

ATR secured two orders for the 42-600S at the 2019 Paris Airshow, with lessor Elix Aviation Capital putting pen to paper for 10 aircraft to be delivered between 2022 and 2024 and South Pacific-based Air Tahiti singing for two aircraft.

Air Tahiti general manager Manate Vivish said the 42-600S was excellent news for residents of the archipelago and the tourists who headed to the country.

“The ATR 42-600S will enable us to use higher-capacity aircraft for destinations which until now had only been accessible with much smaller aircraft,” Vivish said in a statement when announcing the order in June.

“I am so happy to be part of the launch of this new version of the ATR. This turboprop has already earned worldwide recognition for its high-quality performance, especially for island networks.”

Air Tahiti, which has been flying ATRs for three decades, said it expected to operate the aircraft on routes within the Marquesas Islands, increasing passengers to particular destinations served presently by smaller aircraft only. The order would also allow the airline to reduce the number of aircraft types in its fleet.


VIDEO: A look at the 42-600S from the ATR YouTube channel.

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8 Comments

  • did’nt realise the turbo-props would still be in use. 800mts of paved runaway is’nt too bad for remote locations I suppose. I was a little mesmerised with the Airbus A400M unpaved runway performance, could possibly convert them to a passenger carrier, with refurbished interiors, if required. They may think it worthwhile, if there’s a long standing need for it, Imagine having to build 800mts of runaway all across australia, versus just having to buy planes, if they can handle it..
    https://youtu.be/wIxy6Gt3QUA

  • Chris

    says:

    I can see Air NZ purchasing some AT42-600S to replace the aging Q300 fleet for domestic regional turbo prop services.

  • Richard

    says:

    Am I right in understanding that the -600S needs a 900m runway to carry a full load so that there still will be a payload hit in using Lord Howe Island’s <900m runway?

  • Ben

    says:

    Possibly this is a great opportunity for a Qantaslink fleet renewal: Replace the Dash 8-200 with the ATR 42-600S to continue to serve Lord Howe. Order the ATR 72-600 to replace the Q300/Q400 fleet and order the A220 to replace the 717. They’ll have a brand new regional fleet and Lord Howe will be served by new aircraft, while a medium to long term runway extension is sorted out. All other regional ports get brand new aircraft as well. The 717 is a great aircraft – but there’s no arguing with the versatility, economics and favourable passenger appeal of the A220. It’s perfectly matched to Australia’s long – thin sectors. ATR also feels noticeably roomier and more comfortable than the Dash 8. Yes, they’re not quite as fast, but they offer a premium comfort experience over the Dash – and Qantas calls itself a premium carrier. With this kind of fleet mix, their regional fleet needs will be met for the foreseeable future.

  • Vishnu

    says:

    Regional Express (Rex) could also be ordering the ATR 42-600s to replace their ageing Saab340s! With having about 54 in fleet, and being out of production Rex must make an announcement on their fleet upgrade plans by 2020 at least. This 50 seater aircraft would be just perfect for the company’s operations in Australia and Tasmania! Can’t wait 🙂

  • Peter Ritty

    says:

    Agree, would solve all Rex’s problem plus giving them more capacity.

  • Ben

    says:

    I agree with the ATR 42 for Rex as well. Although don’t know of anywhere they fly to that requires the particular STOL abilities of the -600S.

    I really don’t know what Rex’s long term fleet replacement plan is. I’m not sure they do either. I think even the ATR 42 might be too big for them. They struggle to fill the Saabs on some routes and the ATR is a bigger aircraft. They ideally need something in the 30-36 seat size and I don’t think there’s anything in production anymore that fits their missions.

    The Embraer 120 was a good like-for-like replacement of the Saab. I think up until a few years ago they were available to be produced as a one-off order. However I think well and truly out of production. Rex would probably struggle to find enough examples of models that are much newer than their Saabs.

    They could go for a smaller new model – like the Kingair 350 or Cessna Sky courier. However then they would have to make all their flight attendants redundant. Also I’m not sure of the practicality of not having a lavatory on some of their longer sectors.

    Possibly they could order a small regional jet like the ERJ-135. However overall operating costs might be higher with a jet than a turboprop. Their schedule might look interesting too: With an ERJ-135 they could probably do some shorter sectors like SYD-BHS in about 10 minutes :).

    The ATR 42 could work for them on some sectors. However they are already operating to a lot of markets where they’re serving niche demand and marginal profitability. I’m not sure there would be enough growth potential to warrant an ATR 42.

  • AlanH

    says:

    Rex keeps buying Saab 340s as they have another 20 years flying life in them and they are a perfect fit for them, plus the purchase cost is far better than buying new aircraft like ATRs. They also realise savings in having a one-type fleet. They could probably do with more capacity on some of the busier high-demand routes, but that wouldn’t justify a complete fleet change, though they might consider getting a few ATR 42-600S. The bean counters will make that decision for them, not their pax. I can’t see them buying regional jets in the near future.

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