With 300 units on order - the equivalent of three years’ production - ATR has never been happier. Until their shareholders agree on the timing to launch a 90-seater aircraft, the European regional aircraft manufacturer is working on improvements to their 600 series, such as those for a high-density 78-seater cabin, due to be launched in the summer of 2016. In response to the market demand for more fuel-efficient engines, ATR is seriously considering repowering their two turboprop aircraft (ATR 42 & ATR 72).
Thierry Casale, Senior Vice-President Programs – ATR: "We have started discussions with the engine manufacturers, and are in the early stages of feasibility studies. We still need a few months’ work to assess the suitability of the technical solutions to be proposed, so it will take a few years."
In the regional market for distances of around 300 miles (500 km), the competitiveness of the turboprop is well established. The aircraft uses less than half the kerosene of a jet, with less maintenance costs. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 40% of ATR’s sales. In competition with Canada's Bombardier, they have just achieved a breakthrough in the Japanese market with Amakusa Airlines, and especially Japan Air Commuter (a Japan Airlines’ subsidiary). In order to establish closer contact with their new customers, ATR has just opened a sales office in Tokyo - a high potential market.
John Moore, Director of Sales – ATR: "It’s a market that has a large fleet of regional aircraft. Nearly 100 aircraft are operating today in Japan, about two thirds of those are turboprops, and many of these aircraft are reaching quite an advanced age of 20+ years so they are ready for replacement."
And ATR is ready. Together with their 1,200 employees, and 430,000 square feet (40,000 m2) of industrial premises, this year, the manufacturer intends to exceed the 90-delivery threshold, and achieve a turnover of close to $ 2 billion.