Regional flying is a key part of US aviation. This market allows passengers from smaller airports to be fed onto larger carriers’ mainline networks at international and even intercontinental hubs. However, this is an area that regional jets dominate, and turboprops are comparatively rare. Let’s take a look at where you can still find ATR turboprops in the US.
The largest passenger ATR operator
According to data from ch-aviation.com, there are presently 43 active US-registered aircraft that belong to either the ATR 42 or 72 families. You can find these at six different operators. The largest of these, in terms of passenger-carrying ATR 42s and 72s, is Silver Airways.
Silver Airways is a Fort Lauderdale-based regional airline whose fleet consists entirely of turboprop aircraft. Among these are six active examples of the ATR42-600 (3.4 years old on average), alongside three larger ATR 72-600s (4.5 years old on average).
Additionally, the 10-year-old carrier also has an inactive example of the cargo-carrying ATR72-500F. However, this is far older, clocking in at 16.9 years at the time of writing. The all-economy turboprops seat either 46 (ATR 42) or 70 (ATR 72) passengers. The smaller ATR 42 is the future of Silver Airways, as the pink-clad carrier has a further nine examples on order.
More popular among cargo carriers
Where ATR’s turboprops do have a little more of a market presence is in the airfreight sector. Indeed, ch-aviation’s data shows that there are two cargo operators with larger ATR fleets than passenger-focused Silver Airways. The smaller of these belongs to Empire Airlines. This carrier’s fleet features eight active ATR 42-300Fs and five active ATR 72-200Fs.
Meanwhile, clocking in at 17 aircraft, the largest active ATR fleet in the US at the time of writing belongs to Mountain Air Cargo. This Denver-based carrier presently flies eight active ATR42-300Fs, and nine larger ATR 72-200Fs. However, these aircraft are rather older than Silver Airways’ youthful passenger-carrying ATR turboprops, as is common for freighters.
Indeed, the ATR 42 freighters have an average age of 29.7 years of old. The ATR 72s are not much younger, and clock in at 29.2 years old on average. Interestingly, the carrier’s fleet is owned by FedEx and dry-leased to Mountain Air Cargo, hence the livery.
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Smaller US-based ATR fleets
We have covered three carriers thus far, leaving three smaller operators. The largest of these in terms of an active fleet of ATR turboprops is, in fact, the US Department of Justice. This government body operates a 28.2-year-old ATR 42-300F, as well as a 50-seat ATR 42-500 that clocks in at 24 years old. It has flown these since 2007 and 2008 respectively.
Meanwhile, there are also two US-based carriers with a single active ATR turboprop in their respective fleets. Representing the airfreight sector is Gulf & Caribbean Cargo, whose only ATR 42-300F is an impressive 29.8 years old. As for passenger-carrying ATR turboprops, Blue Ridge Aero Services has a single 46-seat, 35.3-year-old ATR 42-300.
Have you ever flown on an ATR turboprop in the US? Perhaps you did so with one of these carriers? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.