Over the past weeks, we have heard a lot about Bombardier and Embraer. The two regional jet makers have made headlines due to their newest aircraft. Bombardier’s C-Series was partly purchased by Airbus, and Embraer will soon launch their E2 Jets. The smaller jet makers, such as Mitsubishi RJ and COMAC in Japan and China have also had limited success for their jets. One major aircraft manufacturer that has not had the spotlight in a while has been ATR.
ATR is known for their very successful ATR turboprop aircraft family. They fly all over the world, and are the most advanced turboprops in the market. Their most recent ATRs were launched in 2007, and first flew in 2009. These planes have made an impact over the world, but have slowly been shunned by major carriers in favor of regional jets.
FedEx Orders ATR 72
FedEx is one of the largest overnight freight companies in the world. They also boast a large cargo-only fleet. The airline, looking to expand its market share in smaller areas, orders ATR 72 aircraft to fill that gap. The airline placed an order for 30 ATR 72-600s, with 20 more options. This marks the first freight version of the aircraft to be ordered. The most recent orders had been signed the previous year by IndiGo and Iran Air.
This order will breathe in new life to the program. Many turboprop aircraft manufacturers have been having difficulty selling their planes, as more and more carriers focus on faster jets. The niche for turboprops is still there, however, as many airlines still need more economical planes for lower yield routes.
I remember the days when ATRs were a common sight in San Juan. The planes flew for American Eagle to destinations across the Caribbean. It’s been about 5 years since then. The new order by FedEx could push other carriers, both freight specific and passenger, to order ATRs. I would love to see SJU-based Seaborne begin to enhance their fleet by adding larger ATR 72s for their denser routes. I can also see Florida-based Silver Airways ordering ATRs to expand their fleet.
What do you think? Will more airlines order ATRs or has the era of turboprops come almost to its end? Let us know!
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Images from Wikimedia or ATR Corp.