ATR has started the flight test campaign of its Short Take-Off and Landing version of the 42, with the first flight on May 11 near Toulouse. This should lead to certification somewhere in 2023. ATR 42 STOL-version makes its maiden flight.
The ATR 42-600 test aircraft took off from Francazal Airport, which is southwest of Toulouse, at 10 am local time before setting course towards the South. After initial checks at a lower altitude, the aircraft performed some long circuits up to 17.000 feet. After two hours and fifteen minutes, she touched down again at Francazal.
The STOL version is capable of operating on runways of just 800 meters long, often in remote areas. Prototype MSN811 has been modified to incorporate the changes between the standard 42-600 and the 42-600S, which include a reinforced rear fuselage, an autobraking system, ground spoilers, and a bigger rudder, and a next-generation multi-functional computer. The preparations for the prototype aircraft started in November 2021.
In the first phase of flight tests until the end of this year, the aircraft will test all systems except one: the larger rudder. This will be moved in place ahead of phase two of the test program, which will be followed immediately by the certification phase.
ATR launched the STOL-version at the 2019 Paris Airshow and the Board of Directors authorized the program in October 2019. So far, twenty 42-600S have been ordered by airlines and lessors. Customers include Elix Aviation Capital as the launch lessor, Air Tahiti as the launch operator, PNG Air, and Japanese airline Toki Air. The original timeline saw certification in the second half of this year and the first deliveries in 2023, but this schedule has been shifted by around a year.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.