ATR Unveils and Flies its New ATR 72-600F
ATR unveiled to the public and flown the ATR 72-600F for the first time. This regional aircraft, specially designed for the regional air freight market, took off this Wednesday, September 15 in Toulouse, France.
A Completed First Flight
Launched in November 2017, the ATR-600 Freighter is a new version of the 72-600 entirely dedicated to air freight. After 3 years of development and a delay due to the covid-19 epidemic, the first model MSN1653 has just completed a 2 hour flight from the ATR Saint-Martin site in Toulouse, France. The crew members were able to perform a number of tests to test the flight envelope and flight performance of this new cargo aircraft.
The ATR 72-600F, a Resolutely Cargo Plane
The ATR 72-600F has been designed to bring together all the advancements of the ATR -600 series while incorporating the features necessary for freight transport. It is the first ever ATR purpose-built cargo aircraft to be released from the factories of the Franco-Italian manufacturer. And for this novelty, ATR has given everything.
An exceptional cargo door of 2.94m x 1.8m and floor panels reinforced at 488 kg/m² (100 lb / ft²) make it possible to accommodate all types of cargo: various cargoes, pallets and containers compliant with industry standards.
The fuselage is without windows but perfectly lit thanks to an integrated system of LED lights. A wall lines the interior of the hold with netting attachment points both on the ground and on the lateral tracks.
Certified for Cargo Loading System (CLS), the hold can be adapted to accommodate LD3 type containers. It is also class E thanks to smoke detectors which allow the transport of dangerous and flammable goods.
In total, the cargo bay has a usable volume of 75.5 m³ (2,666 ft³) and can carry up to 8.9 t (19,600 lb) of payload.
ATR highlights two types of cargo hold configuration:
• A configuration for Bulk Cargo:
Up to nine vertical nets can be installed using the attachment points. They make it possible to hold all types of goods during the flight such as a series of packages or large packages.
• A Unit Load Device configuration:
LD3 type containers and compliant pallets can be loaded. The cargo hold can accommodate up to 7 LD3 containers, or 5 88 “x 108” pallets or 9 88 “x 62” pallets, with additional space for bulk cargo at the bottom of the cargo hold.
Performance that does not Disappoint
The ATR 72-600F is powered by two Pratt & Whitney 127M engines which provide up to 5,500 horsepower at takeoff. These turboprop engines performed well on the -600 series in both high and hot conditions. They are also economical with lower fuel consumption compared to older ATR models. The company recently announced that the ATR 72-600 emits 40% less CO2 per trip than regional jets thanks to the PW 127M turboprop engines, which are very efficient on short trips.
This cargo aircraft has a range of 900 nm (1667 km), which is 75 nm more than the 72-600 for passengers.
A Modern and Upgradeable Cockpit
The cockpit is that of the ATR -600 series. Perfectly designed using Thalès avionics, it borrows the philosophy of the Airbus A380 and draws certain features from it.
The avionics suite is based on an Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) concept, the cockpit modules exchange data with each other and can host multiple applications. The 5 LCD screens, for instance, offer multiple applications in addition to conventional display systems, including radio frequency management and map display.
Thales has incorporated its very modern FMS 220 flight management system into it. The functions relating to the performance of the aircraft and the parameters of the speed indicators have been developed in close collaboration with the ATR teams to ensure that it meets perfectly to operational needs.
The combination of an Enhanced Flight Vision System (EFVS) and Heads Up Display (HUD) allows the pilot to watch information and have an improved picture of the environment, even at night. This system provides great operational flexibility to the ATR 72-600F.
ATR and Thalès have designed this cockpit to be upgradeable. The modules may be replaced by even more modern and efficient modules in the future. This “protects the advanced -600F cockpit by allowing cargo airlines to take advantage of future innovations, which will further improve the aircraft’s efficiency,” the company said.
ATR is Doubling Down on Development for First Deliveries in November
The Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer is mobilizing its teams to catch up with the delay due to the covid-19 epidemic. ATR expects the first delivery in November 2020, less than 3 months after the first flight of the 72-600F.
FedEx Express will receive the first deliveries. The large international freight forwarder, which is looking to renew its fleet, placed a firm order for 30 aircraft and reserved options for 20 more in November 2017. David L. Cunningham, president of FedEx Express, said at the time: «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.»
This new cargo plane brings latest generation technologies to a regional cargo market dominated by old planes. It should strengthen ATR’s position in a market in which the company is already a leader. « 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. », the company said in a statement.
Pictures: ©ATR ©French Dainter