Freight First purpose-built ATR 72-600F takes to the skies

ATR aircraft has announced, that its first purpose-built ATR 72-600F has performed its first flight.

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The first purpose-built ATR 72-600F has successfully performed its first flight. The aircraft took off from the manufacturer´s site at Saint-Martin and performed a nearly two hours long test flight.

On board, the crew performed numerous tests in order to measure the aircraft´s flight envelope and flight performance. This will allow the manufacturer to gain the type certificate for the aircraft as fast as possible.

This ATR 72-600F is the first aircraft that has purposely built by ATR to be a freighter aircraft. All 72-600Fs to date were originally passenger aircraft and have been converted to freighters afterwards. Launch customer of the OEM freighter aircraft will be FedEx.

In November 2017, the American cargo company signed a purchase agreement with ATR over up to 50 ATR 72-600F. The order includes the firm purchase agreement for 30 aircraft and 20 additional purchase options.

The first flight of the first ATR-built 72-600 freighter is a milestone for the manufacturer. It further strengthens ATR´s leadership position in the turboprop market and shows its ambitions in the regional freighter market.

Currently, nearly a third of all regional freighter aircraft already are ATR aircraft, which have been converted after performing passenger services for years. Both the larger ATR 72, but also the smaller ATR 42 are in service with freight airlines.

Regarding its ATR 72-600F, ATR stated: "The brand new straight-from-factory cargo aircraft will offer a number of unique advantages to operators. With a Large Cargo Door included as part of the original design and the same wide cross section as all ATR aircraft, the freighter will be able to accommodate bulk cargo and industry-standard pallets and containers."

The French manufacturer added that the aircraft will also provide operators with a new avionics suite, which can be upgraded over time. ATR said that this futureproofs the -600F state-of-the-art cockpit by allowing cargo airlines to take benefit from future innovations.

ATR is selling the most aircraft in the 90-seat market segment with its ATR 42 and 72 turboprops. The company employs 1400 people around the world. ATR is a joint venture between Airbus and Leonardo.

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