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An ATR 42 is a small regional Twin Turboprop Aircraft capable of seating 42-50 passengers. Later a stretched version called the ATR-72 was released capable of seating 78 passengers.The 42's first flight was in 1984 and was introduced in 1985 by Air Littorel


During the 1960s and 1970s, European aircraft manufacturers had, for the most part, undergone considerable corporate restructuring, including mergers and consolidations, as well as moved towards collaborative multinational programmes, such as the newly launched Airbus A300. In line with this trend towards intra-European co-operation, French aerospace manufacturer Aérospatiale and Italian aviation conglomerate Aeritalia commenced discussions on the topic of working together to develop an all-new regional airliner. Prior to this, both companies had been independently conducting studies for their own aircraft concepts, the AS 35 design in the case of Aerospatiale and the AIT 230 for Aeritalia, to conform with demand within this sector of the market as early as 1978.

Initial development[]

On 4 November 1981, a formal co-operation agreement was signed by Aeritalia chairman Renato Bonifacio and Aerospatiale chairman Jacques Mitterrand in Paris. This agreement signaled not only the merger of their efforts, but also of their separate concept designs together into a single complete aircraft design for the purpose of pursuing its development and manufacture as a collaborative joint venture. The consortium then targeted a similar unit cost, but a 430 kg (950 lb) fuel consumption over a 200 nmi (370 km; 230 mi) sector, nearly half the 790 kg (1,750 lb) required by its 40-50 seat competitors, the British Aerospace HS.748 and Fokker F.27, and planned a 58-seat ATR XX stretch.

This agreement served not only as the basis and origins of the ATR company, but also as the effective launch point of what would become the fledgling firm's first aircraft, which was designated as the ATR 42. By 1983, ATR's customer services division has been set up, readying infrastructure worldwide to provide support for ATR's upcoming aircraft to any customer regardless of location. On 16 August 1984, the first ATR 42 conducted its maiden flight from Toulouse Airport, France. During September 1985, both the French Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Italian Italian Civil Aviation Authority awarded type certification for the type, clearing it to commence operational service.


On 3 December 1985, the first production aircraft, designated as the ATR 42-300, was delivered to French launch customer Air Littoral, with the first revenue service, between Béziers Cap d'Agde Airport and Paris Orly airport taking place on 23 December. During January 1986, already confident of the ATR 42's success and of the demand for an enlarged version of the aircraft, ATR announced that the launch of a programme to develop such an aircraft, which was designated as the ATR 72 to reflect its increased passenger capacity.

By the end of 1986, the ATR 42 had accumulated a sizable backlog of orders, which in turn led to a ramping up of the type's rate of production. During August 1988, ATR's marketing efforts in the lucrative North American market resulted in the securing of a large order of 50 ATR-42-300s from US operator Texas Air Corporation; that same year, another American regional carrier, Trans World Express, received the 100th production aircraft. On 1 July 1989, ATR opened their new global training centre for the type in Toulouse, which provided centralised and modern facilities for the training to airline staff and other personnel across the world. During June 1999, the ATR global training center became one of the first European institutions to be recognised as a Type Rating Training Organization, as defined by the Joint Aviation Authorities.

During September 1989, ATR announced it had achieved its original target of 400 sales of the ATR. That same year, deliveries of the enlarged ATR 72 commenced; shortly thereafter, both types commonly were ordered together. Since the smaller ATR 42 is assembled on the same production line as the ATR 72, along with sharing the majority of subsystems, components, and manufacturing techniques, the two types support each other to remain in production. This factor may have been crucial, as by 2015, the ATR 42 was the only 50-seat regional aircraft that was still being manufactured.


The ATR 42 is a straight high-wing airliner with twin turboprops and a T-tail, certified in the transport category, and powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW120s. It has deicing boots to fly in icing conditions and a retractable landing gear in fairings under the fuselage, with wheel sides visible in flight. It has no Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), but can still be autonomous in ground operations, as it has a propeller brake on the starboard engine, allowing the engine to remain running to provide power on the ground.

It has a pressurized cabin with a circular cross-section, with a 2.57 m (8 ft 5 in) inside width for four-abreast seating, allowing 48 seats at a 30 in (760 mm) seat pitch. It has a 54.5 m2 (587 sq ft) wing area and a 24.57 m (80.6 ft) wing span, for a 11.1 wing aspect ratio. It has a 18,600 kg (41,000 lb) MTOW, for a 341 kg/m2 (70 lb/sq ft) wing loading. It can reach a cruise speed of 300 kt (556 km/h) true air speed, with a fuel flow of 811 kg/h (1,788 lb/h): a fuel economy of 1.46 kg/km (5.96 lb/nmi) or 3.8 L/100 km (62 mpg‑US) per seat with 48 seats and a jet fuel density of 0.8.

Operational history[]

On 21 August 1990, US airline American Eagle placed a large order for ATRs, composed of 41 ATR 42s and 59 ATR 72s, further consolidating ATR's position in North America. On 5 September 1997, American Eagle took delivery of the 500th ATR to be built. On 5 June 1998, Tarom, the national carrier of Romania, accepted delivery of its first two ATR 42-500s, of a batch of seven aircraft ordered a year earlier. On 28 June 1998, ATR gained a foothold in the Cuban market following an order from airline Cubana de Aviacion for the ATR 42. During 2000, the combined global ATR fleet attained its 10,000,000th flight, during which a cumulative distance around 4 billion km (2.5 billion statute miles) had been traversed, and around 450 million passengers had flown onboard ATR-built aircraft. In 2007, a new record was set for the programme's sales; 113 new ATR aircraft having been ordered during a single year.

2011 was another record-breaking year for sales at ATR. According to ATR's CEO Filippo Bagnato, sales had continued to grow during the Great Recession despite the downturn experienced by most aviation companies as "fuel consumption that can be half that of the alternatives and [with] lower maintenance costs". Bagnato noted the strength of Africa as a market for the type, as well as the firm's aircraft being capable of serving destinations that would otherwise be inaccessible with other aircraft due to the austere conditions of many airstrips and runways in the region, as well as the ability to operate autonomously without any reliance upon ground support equipment. For 2013, ATR claimed a 48% global market share for regional aircraft deliveries between 50 and 90 seats (comprising both turboprops and jets), making it the dominant manufacturer within this sector of the market. That same year, during which firm orders for 10 ATR 42-600s and 79 ATR 72-600s were recorded, leasing companies were responsible for 70% of these; according to ATR's CEO Filippo Bagnato: "Years ago, we were not even considered by the lessors; now they see ATRs as a good investment".

During May 1997, ATR had achieved its first breakthrough sale in China, placed by operator China Xinjiang Airlines and the CAAC. By 2013, while the Asia Pacific region had comprised the majority of ATR's sales when geographically ranked, but orders from Chinese airlines remained elusive; Bagnato ascribed this anomaly to local market conditions dictating the typical use of larger aircraft, as well as a Chinese government policy of imposing high tariffs on the import of foreign-built, fixed-wing aircraft. During late 2014, ATR set up a new office in Beijing, and hired several former Airbus sales personnel with the aim of launching the type on the Chinese market. ATR believed that many of the already-flown routes did not suit larger 150-seat aircraft; however, of the roughly 2,600 commercial aircraft flying in China at that time, only 68 had a capacity less than 90 seats and of these, fewer than 20 aircraft were powered by turboprop engines.

In response to airlines often wanting to phase out their early production ATR models to replace them with the latest generation ATR series, as well as to answer demand from cargo operators for the type, ATR has operated two separate dedicated freighter conversion programmes, known as the Bulk Freighter (tube version) and the ULD Freighter. Both conversions involve complete stripping of furnishings along with the addition of floor strengthening, new window plugs and 9 g restraining nets, six additional longitudinal tracks for added flexibility, and an E-Class cabin; the ULD model can accommodate standard ULD-packaged cargo, such as LD3 containers or 88x108in (2.2x2.7m) pallets, which were loaded via a large cargo door located on the port forward side. Undertaken by a range of companies, such as Alenia subsidiary Aeronavali, Texas-based M7 Aerospace; French firms Indraéro Siren and Aeroconseil, Canadian Infinion Certification Engineering, and Spanish company Arrodisa, by October 2012, in excess of one-fifth of all first-generation ATR 42 and ATR 72 aircraft had already been converted to freighters.

During January 2017, Japanese regional airliner Japan Air Commuter (JAC) has taken delivery of its first ATR 42-600, becoming the first owner-operator of the type in the nation. The aircraft was one of nine to have been ordered by JAC, along with options for a further 14 ATR 42s, as a replacement for its aging Saab 340 fleet; reportedly, JAC is considering replacing its Bombardier Q400s with ATRs, as well.

Silver Airways started to operate the ATR 42-600 on 22 April 2019, making it the first airline to fly the -600 variant in the USA. The carrier has 16 firm orders for ATR turboprops with options to purchase 30 additional aircraft from ATR through lessor Nordic Aviation Capital.

The operational history of ATR aircraft, particularly in the context of the Latin American market and technological advancements, can be further detailed with the following information:

1. Market Presence in Latin America: ATR aircraft, especially the ATR-72 and ATR-42 models, are leading the turboprop market in Latin America and the Caribbean. As of the data available, there were 232 turboprops in 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries, with 75 being ATR-72 and 61 ATR-42. Colombia and Brazil emerged as the largest markets for ATR aircraft in the region. Prominent airlines operating ATR aircraft in these countries include Avianca and EasyFly in Colombia, Azul Linhas Aereas in Brazil, and Aeromar in Mexico. The Caribbean, with its small islands and little runways, also presents a favorable market for turboprops like ATR, with operators such as Caribbean Airlines, Bahamas Air, and the now-defunct LIAT. The growth potential in the region is significant, with many underserved airports and communities, particularly in areas like the Amazon across Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela, where turboprops are optimally suited for providing connectivity.

2. Technological Upgrades and Enhancements: ATR has been focusing on several upgrades for its turboprop aircraft, including the 40-seat-class ATR 42 and the 70-seat-class ATR-72. These upgrades are aimed at improving market acceptance and include developments like the ClearVision advanced vision system. This cautious approach to product technology upgrades prioritizes market needs and acceptance, aligning technological advancements with the operational requirements of airlines.


ATR 42/Gallery