ATR’s First Regional Freighter Turboprop Makes Its Maiden Flight

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Regional turboprop manufacturer ATR announced Wednesday that it had completed the first successful flight of its new ATR 72-600F – the freighter variant of its ATR 72-600 passenger aircraft. The aircraft took off from Toulouse airport at 13:58 and flew for roughly two hours.

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The ATR 72-600F is the newest product to come from the turboprop aircraft manufacturer. Photo: ATR

“The arrival of this new freighter further cements ATR’s leadership position in the regional freighter market where ATR cargo aircraft already represent a third of the in-service regional freighter fleet.” -ATR

Details of the first ATR 72-600F flight

The first flight took place on September 16th from ATR’s production site at Saint-Martin – more specifically Saint-Martin-du-Touch, a site just west of Toulouse, France, and connected to the southern edge of Toulouse Blagnac Airport.

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The flight had a duration of two hours. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

According to data from FlightRadar24.com, the flight took off slightly before 14:00 and lasted just over two hours, landing at 16:06. During the flight, ATR’s crew onboard performed a number of tests “to measure the new aircraft’s flight envelope and flight performance.”

As you can see from the recorded flight path image above, the aircraft covered a fair amount of area, skirting the Pyrenees Mountains that mark the border between France and Spain.

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To be delivered to FedEx Express

The first delivery of this aircraft will be to American courier and delivery giant FedEx Express – the world’s largest cargo airline and express transportation company. The delivery of the plane is part of a firm order for 30 aircraft, plus 20 options, placed in November 2017.

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The new ATR 72-600F will join FedEx’s extensive fleet of older ATR freighters. Photo: Arcturus via Wikimedia Commons 

Joining an already extensive fleet of ATR freighters, the newest member of the family will be FedEx’s 43rd ATR aircraft as it already has 42 in the fleet, according to Planespotters.net.

“ATR aircraft have been successfully operating in FedEx service for many years. We worked with ATR to develop this new aircraft, which include special features to help us grow our business, especially in the air freight market where shipments are larger and heavier. The 72-600F will play an important role in our global network by helping us deliver fast, economical service to small and medium sized markets.” -David L. Cunningham, President and CEO, FedEx Express

What’s so special about this new aircraft?

This ATR 72-600F is ATR’s newest purpose-built regional freighter aircraft. The manufacturer says that the twin-turboprop will offer “a number of unique advantages to operators,” including the “very latest avionics suite, which can be continuously upgraded.” ATR says that this effectively futureproofs the -600F’s state-of-the-art cockpit by allowing cargo airlines to benefit from future innovations, “which will further enhance the aircraft’s efficiency.”

The aircraft shares commonality with other ATR aircraft, including a large cargo door and wide cross-section, which allows it to “accommodate bulk cargo and industry-standard pallets and containers.”

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