Toulouse, Southern France-based regional aircraft manufacturer ATR is the world leader in the 50 to 70-seat turboprop market. ATR is an equal partnership between Alenia Aeronautica (Finmeccanica group) and EADS. ATR is certified ANSI/ISO/ASQ Q 9001:2000 and EN/AS/JISQ 9100, the worldwide quality standard in the field of aeronautics.
Created in the 1980s by a joint venture between the then Aérospatiale, now EADS, and the then Aeritalia, now Alenia Aeronautica, the ATR program currently represents the main world success in the 50/70-seats turboprop regional aircraft segment. ATR is an equal joint venture by Alenia Aeronautica and EADS, based in Toulouse in the South of France. The two aircraft produced by the consortium, the ATR 42 and the ATR 72, share same fuselage section, basic systems and cockpit and represent a reliable and efficient transport solution for short range routes all over the world, thanks to a high operational standard and a very high comfort inside the cabin.
Aerospatiale of France and Aeritalia of Italy embarked on their first joint commercial venture to develop the ATR 42, a 42- to 46-passenger aircraft. This high-wing aircraft design is an outgrowth of the previously separate design activities being conducted by each company. It is a relatively recent arrival in the new commuter aircraft development arena, and appears to include more than some others in the way of advanced technology. The aircraft was offered in a number of versions, including the ATR 42F freighter, ATR 42QC quick change, and ATR XX stretched aircraft.
The first ATR 42 prototype (50 seats) has made its maiden flight in 1984 and its first commercial flight in December 1985. Derived from the ATR 42, with a 68-seat basic configuration and with a longer fuselage, the ATR 72 (68 seats) has been launched in January 1986 and delivered to the launch customer Finnair in 1989. As of mid-2008 the ATRs fly with more than 135 companies in over 80 countries, for a total of over 950 units sold in both versions (417 ATR 42 e 533 ATR 72). This commercial success proves the strong recovery of the turboprop segment in the regional transport market.
The basic ATR 42-300 is fitted with two PW120 engines rated at 2,000 shp each. The ATR 42-320, fitted with two PW121 engines rated at 2,100 shp each, has been developed to offer increased performance in hot and high conditions and short runway operations. The standard cabin layout is 48 seats at 30-inch pitch. The dimensions of the front cargo compartment can be adapted to accommodate 50-seat and 46-seat configurations at 30-inch pitch. The ATR 42 is remarkably easy to operate and maintain and is equipped with efficient, low-fuel-burn engines. Its operating costs are 15%-20% lower than those of its competitors. The ATR 42 uses digital avionics with conventional displays for CAT (Category) I or I1 landings, and this can be extended to CAT 111. The interior cabin noise goal is 80 BA, which was nearly as quiet as the Airbus Industrie A300's 78 dJ3A and significantly quieter than the 90 dBA of the Nord 262. The pressurized aircraft has a four-abreast passenger cabin and can accomodate LD-3 cargo containers. The aircraft used two Pratt & Whitney of Canada PW 100/2 turboprop engines fitted with Hamilton-Standard 14SF four-blade propellers of metal spar compositeshell design.
Concurrent with the development of the baseline aircraft, Aerospatiale had an advanced-technology program to investigate several items for possible incorporation. These include wing tip optimization, composite control surfaces and empennage fins, airfoiVpropeller slipstream tailoring, cathode-ray-tube and head-up displays, flight management systems, and an active gust alleviation system drivingthe aft flap segment and ailerons. The program also investigated a graphite-epoxy wing box.
For all ATRs Alenia Aeronautica produces the whole fuselage, completely equipped, and the vertical and horizontal stabilisers, wholly made in composite material. The fuselage is built and assembled at Pomigliano plant, near Naples, but some of its components are made at Casoria and Nola plants, and also by many suppliers, all over Italy and partly abroad. The stabilisers are made in composite material and assembled at Foggia plant, Alenia's center of excellence for the composite material manufacturing. Furthermore, Alenia Aeronautica is responsible for modifications, logistic support and spare parts manufacturing for the components produced in the Italian facilities. Alenia staff involved in the program are about 1000, of which 70% in the Campania region. Also to be added, around 700 are employed all over Italy in indirect work. And in addition also 60 Alenia Aeronautica employees, between engineers and skilled personnel, work at the ATR facility in Toulouse.
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