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ATR, the European turboprop maker, is touring the United States and Canada with an ATR72-600.  This is their top of the line model.  The aircraft is powered by P&WC PW127 engines.  A revised version of that engine is now in use by Avianca, the PW127N, which provides more hot and high power.

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We met the aircraft and ATR team in Charlotte, where the aircraft is on display to attendees of the annual RAA conference.  RAA airlines are among the primary targets for the aircraft.  To date, the market has been either using old turboprops or deploying the ATR’s competitor, the Q400. The new ATR can also effectively compete with 50-seater regional jets ATR claims. Continue reading

ATR, the world’s largest maker of commercial turboprops, is trying to reenter the North American market.  This past week the company has been showing off its latest iteration, the ATR72-600 in Canada.  This is part of a two week sales tour of North America.

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The aircraft outsells the competing Bombardier Q400 everywhere, except North America.  Consequently the company is bringing their aircraft to the market for a “show & tell”.  Next week the airplane goes to the Regional Airlines Association annual conference, where both trade press and airlines will get a chance for a first hand look.

ATR didn’t shrink back from showing their aircraft right in Bombardier’s backyard.  Hope may spring eternal, but the ATR is cheaper than the Q400 and for virtually every airline, that is all that matters.

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North American airlines, like WestJet, we understand, selected the Q400 over the ATR because of the Q’s performance.  The… Continue reading

"Scope Clauses" are collectively bargained contractual terms in pilot union agreements with US major carriers that place restrictions on how many and what size of aircraft regional airlines may operate.  Typically, these restrict regionals to aircraft under 86,000 pounds and no more than 76 seats. Their goal is to protect union jobs at the major airline from being eliminated by regional airlines operating larger aircraft.

Here is a summary of the current scope clauses with the three major legacy carriers in the United States. It is notable that the  details are quite precise.  These have been the subject of difficult negotiations, and while they have changed and grown somewhat over time, as aircraft have changed, any changes must be negotiated at the expiration of a contract, which typically run for multiple years.

Welcome to AirInsight Premium content. This page is only available to active members.… Continue reading

The 90+ seat turboprop is something that has been bubbling up for a long time. Interest was primarily driven by rising fuel prices. The key firms in the turboprop business today are ATR and Bombardier. Both firms have long made the case that a 90-seater isn’t in the cards. But interest never went away, as also shown in the story here.

Recently, Bombardier announced they had managed to squeeze 90 seats in their Q400. We are certain that ATR is preparing its own solution. Squeezing more seats into an existing fuselage that was designed for fewer passengers can only mean one thing – more discomfort.

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India has long been a promising market for commercial aviation.  Limitations have come from infrastructure (too few airports) and an interfering government.   Another source of difficulty for India’s hard-pressed airlines has been fuel prices.  Airlines face a myriad of taxes on fuel.  Sometimes this could mean paying up to 50% more for fuel than in competing markets. Fortunately the decline in oil prices have given the industry a boost.  Fuel charges constitute 50-60% of the total operating costs for Indian airlines. For members of The Association of European Airlines members fuel costs are at 33% of operating costs.

We have looked at this market before and still think India is ripe for more turboprops. India taxes fuel for jets differently than for turboprops.  The latter are fortunate that they much less for fuel.  This should be a big incentive to add turboprops to fleets.

Consequently it is with… Continue reading

Industry talk about the need for a 90-seat turboprop is well known.  Both of the principal OEMs, ATR and Bombardier, have not rushed to develop something new.  As we have heard both OEMs say at ISTAT – the business case for developing a new aircraft isn’t there.

Today Bombardier announced their Q400 can now seat 90.  The company estimates the 12 to 14 additional seats deliver ~$8m in extra value to customers.  Further boosting the aircraft,  Bombardier also  announced a 2,000 lb-increase in payload and an escalation of the A-Check and C-Check intervals from 600/6,000 to 800/8,000 flight hours, all available for entry-into-service as early as 2018.

Previously the maximum seating on the Q400 was 86 on Nok Air.

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