Today, ATR announced that FedEx Express, a FedEx Corp subsidiary, received its first-ever purpose-built turboprop regional freighter. This ATR 72-600F will join the world’s largest express transportation company.
FedEx ATR order
This aircraft is the first of a firm order of 30, with the option to purchase 20 more. ATR sent FedEx’s ATR 72-600F to Shannon Airport in Ireland. There, ASL Airlines Ireland will operate the airplane as part of the FedEx Express Feeder Fleet.
ATR and FedEx signed the purchase agreement in November 2017. According to FedEx, subsequent deliveries will be about six aircraft per year over the next five years.
FedEx Express has one of the largest cargo fleets in the world. It has 456 aircraft, according to Planespotters.com.
The cargo airline has 44 ATR aircraft so far. It also has 66 A300, ten Boeing 737, 119 Boeing 757, 95 Boeing 767, 45 Boeing 777, 18 McDonnell Douglas DC-10, and 59 McDonnell Douglas MD-11.
How will these aircraft fit into FedEx plans?
If you take a look at FedEx’s website, it doesn’t talk about the ATR-built aircraft being in its fleet. That’s because FedEx uses the turboprops as feeder planes.
It currently deploys 364 feeder aircraft operating in 56 countries. Most of the feeder fleet is owned by FedEx, but it leases it to third-party airlines that fly under their own operating certificates. That’s why ASL Airlines Ireland will use the ATR 72-600F.
FedEx feeder fleet is comprised of aircraft under 60,000 pounds maximum gross take-off weight. It allows the company to “provide fast, economical services to small and medium-sized businesses around the world.”
The turboprop freighter, a game-changer?
The European manufacturer ATR thinks it has a game-changer with the ATR 72-600F. It is a brand new aircraft, based on the commercial hit that is the ATR-72.
Even though it is based on the commercial aircraft, the fuselage is a clean design, optimized for cargo. ATR added that the fuselage was delivered by the Italian manufacturer Leonardo.
Stefano Bortoli, CEO of ATR said,
“Freighters play a huge role in supplying essential connectivity between economies all over the world, and the unique aspects of our modern purpose-built freighter mean it will deliver operational benefits to companies that integrate them into their fleet.”
Meanwhile, Scot Struminger, CEO of Aviation at FedEx Express, said that this aircraft is a major milestone in the modernization of the feeder aircraft fleet. He added,
“The ATR 72-600F was constructed with input from FedEx engineers every step of the way, so we’re proud and excited to finally take possession of this impressive aircraft.”
This plane has 75m3 of freight capacity. It can carry up to nine tonnes of payload, either in bulk cargo or using up to seven LD3 containers.
Jorn van de Plas, senior vice-president Air Network and GT Europe of FedEx Express, added that ATR’s order is an important step in FedEx’s fleet renewal strategy.
The cargo airline plans to retire two old aircraft and replace them with the new ATRs. It will donate them to Madrid International Airport, where they will serve on fire services training.
What do you think of ATR’s 72-600F? Let us know in the comments.