Odds and Ends: ATR presses parent Airbus for 90 seat go-ahead; Stratoliner; 777 model

ATR presses Airbus: ATR, the world’s leading maker of turbo-prop airliners, is pressing Airbus Group to green-light its proposed 90-seat, clearn-sheet turbo-prop, Bloomberg News reports.

Airbus Group owns 50% of ATR; Alenia owns the other 50%. ATR’s CEO wants to change this legal structure, reports The Wall Street Journal.

According to the news reports, Airbus is concerned about the diversion of engineering resources. Maybe this is why. Airbus is studying a “mega-twin” concept, reports Aviation Week. Of particular note is the reference that Airbus doesn’t plan to launch a new airplane in the next 10 years. We think these plans are going to have to change when Boeing launches a replacement for the 757, followed by the 737RS, which we have for the end of this decade.

But let’s get back to ATR.

Bombardier, the world’s #2 turbo-prop airliner producer, launched a high-density, 86-seat version of its venerable Q400 last year. China is going forward with a 90-seat turbo-prop and India is also interested in joining the fray.

ATR currently holds a 59% share of the future orders, options and Letters of Intents backlog.

Q400 v ATR

Bombardier made some significant progress last year, signing large LOIs with Russia for 100 and with China. These should be converted to firm orders this year, but even so, ATR has a lopsided market lead.

Boeing Stratoliner: Boeing has a short profile of the B307 Stratoliner, the first pressurized airliner. It’s the 75th anniversary of this important airliner. The last surviving example is on display at the Steven Udvar-Hazy Museum at Washington Dulles Airport.

Boeing 777 model: It’s been over the Internet already but in case you’ve missed this, a 1/60th, highly detailed model of the Boeing 777 was carved out of manila folders. This is an amazing piece of artistry.

46 Comments on “Odds and Ends: ATR presses parent Airbus for 90 seat go-ahead; Stratoliner; 777 model

  1. Launching the 737 RS at the end of this decade isn’t going to leave BA much time to recover their investment, but will the new engine technologies be in place by then? If they’re not then Airbus will leapfrog them a few years down the line.

    Another interesting development today is Lion Air’s cancellation of 5 x 787-8, saying they are too small. I wonder what they’ll replace them with – A333lite perhaps?

    • “Another interesting development today is Lion Air’s cancellation of 5 x 787-8”

      Step forward A330-300 Regional…

  2. I think the ATR-BBD table is a little deceptive. ATR totally outsold BBD lately and it shows in the backlog. Nowhere near 60-40..


    On a very big twin, I spent some time pulling & pushing with Henry Lam, nearly 7 yrs ago (?*#@!) I thought the required 160 klbs engines posed serious feasibility issues and settled for 2 x120 klbs engines, common with the biggest twins. Plus one 35 klbs ATPU in the tail, in case a big one says BOOM just before V1. The combined 155 klbs left should be enough to lift a mini double decker over those mountains down the flight path.. a twin & a half. 😉

    Two versions a ~420 and 480 seater, Real 747 replacements.

    Not likely soon IMO. I always thought the 777-9X is just a 2.7m, 2-3 row, rather heavy stretch of the 773ER. But it appears we have a totally new category of aircraft here. It has to be..

    • Finally, Airbus is doing something a supplier should do. Produce solutions the market is asking for, not offering warmed over mess!!!! Let’s hope it looks nothing like your concept here, because I think that idea (called an A380) and the 747-8 are dead on arrival. Airbus please use a clean sheet, or use the A350, and produce something based on customer focus groups. Maybe you should not use the A350 XWB because that too was a half hearted response to your competition. Design where there is demand and not over an old competitve offering. Doing that seems to drive you back to the drawing board rather often don’t you think?

      • “Produce what the customer wants”

        This is not as simple as you make it out to be.
        Usually desires are expressed in scope of known solutions.
        You have to backtrace to the abstract requirements and go forward
        with solving by leveraging the _full scope_ of available technology.

      • well, the 380 was by far the most courageous design … and at the same time the least selling one.
        Besides that, the current discussions about a 330neo show that the original concept of the 350 based on the 330 with a completely new plane coming a few years later than the 350 and maybe being a bit bigger might not have been so bad after all.
        Still, the outcome was not so bad after all for Airbus – and Boeing neither. As Airbus has adopted a strategy placing their new plane in the middle of the wide body market, they should stick to it, and expand it from there to the higher end, but keep it one family.

  3. Regarding ATR and the prop: there is no real technology improvement. It would be the engine, airframe and systems will see only minor improvements. The Q400 offers vastly better performance than the ATR but is more expensive. Airline have chosen: the go directly for jets or chose the ATR (which is a low tech low power low comfort … the high thing is the wing). Ask the engine people first, they know what happens next.

    Airbus big twin: AviationWeekly sort of got fooled by something which is daily occurrence at A&B: a design study regarding the “maximum twin”. It actually is 85m in length, and 80m span. It represents the maximum you can possibly get from a single deck conventional aircraft. And Airbus used it in a research project, which tells you quickly that it was never a serious proposal. Believe me, I saw that thing 3 years ago.
    The B747-8 was killed by the T7X (and the B747-8 itself), and the next thing to kill is the A380, which is probably not Airbus’ intention.

    @keesje: The Airbus study shows that you can avoid a second deck until 470 seats 3-class (appr. 600-650 PAX single class). Then there is a “no go zone” until you arrive at the current A380-800, the smallest feasible twin deck design (a single aisle upper deck sucks for various reasons). Single deck is always preferable over twin deck. Less weight, less complexity.

    • Schrorch the ATR -600 have quieter, wider cabins then the Q400s…

      ATR apparently did a good job on the -600s. It’s a kind of a NG; glass cockpit, props, cabins etc. Airlines noticed & that’s why we see the recent sales boom.

      “Single deck is always preferable over twin deck. Less weight, less complexity.”

      Incorrect. At some point single deck becomes an un-economical concept. You can’t use the ballooning attics and belly’s..

      • ATR apparently did a good job on the -600s. It’s a kind of a NG; glass cockpit, props, cabins etc. Airlines noticed & that’s why we see the recent sales boom.
        Yes and no. The real improvement was the -500 (six-bladed prop). The -600 pushed it into the 21st century. ATR is very cautious on beefing it up. That pleases airlines who operate under very basic conditions – call them ULCC: Ultra Low Cost Carrier.

        Incorrect. At some point single deck becomes an un-economical concept. You can’t use the ballooning attics and belly’s..
        Please read my post and please don’t misquote: I said the smallest practical twin deck is the A380. Below is a 100-150 seat “no go area” (comparable to single aisle / twin aisle intermediate “no go area”). Hence, everything below 450ish seats will be single deck (because here the single deck is ALWAYS preferable over the single deck). Above 550ish seats you HAVE to make it twin deck. In-between is an area where twin deck design will be needed but it will be worse than the 450ish-seater or the 550ish-seater in terms of seat mile cost.

        I added the “ish” because it depends on the actual layout: the A380 started as 555-seat, became 525-seat and now is 578-seat.

    • If the smallest model of an all new Airbus large twin Family (i.e. A360-800X) is to compete effectively and surpass the 777-9X, IMO it would need to incorporate the following features:

      1). Wing span upwards of 75m; folding wing tip à la the 777-9X in order to comply with the ICAO Code E category (i.e. an 80m span would require two 7.5m foldable wing tip devices). A360-900X and A360-1000X could use a larger wing incorporating both span and chord extensions; wing span 80m; no folding wing tip option. However, what’s important, is that the wing for the A360-800X should be optimised for that model, and not the larger models.

      2). MTOW of about 350 metric tonnes and triple bogie main landing gear. The larger A360-900X and A360-1000X versions could use a 747-type landing gear arrangement and significantly higher MTOWs as described in the AW&ST article.

      The ramp space requirements could be reduced significantly if the A360X fuselage would have one and a half decks à la the P510 concept as shown in the video below. IMO, the combination of advanced aerodynamics and composite fuselage construction would allow for a signicantly smoother fuselage hump than what’s the case for the hump around the 747’s upper deck.


  4. India thought about doing a 90-seat turboprop, but changed mind after finding out that there is no new engine available. It then switched to a jet, I guess the project is now dead … (or delayed to infinity as usual in India). The whole thing was called the RTA: Regional Transport Aircraft. Reads like ATR backwards, because ATR actually means Avions de Transport Regional. As Indians are very internet-affinitve, they even created a Wikipedia entry:
    The idea of a composite fuselage for this aircraft class tells you stories how this project was set up …

  5. ATR: Old project, but I am not sure if it does make sense in the end. There are 2 big dangers: 1. similar to Bomb and the C series: While the new project has trouble and does not attract enough orders, your competitors have time to eat up the market where you were once good.
    2. Is there really the market for 90 turboprops? Interest does not mean order. Let s not forget, 10 years ago ATR almost closed for lack of orders – this seems far away but can be back soon again.

    No way, there will be a new ac family. If Airbus wants to have a plane bigger than the 350-1000, it should be based on the 350. I can imagine something a la 340-300 to 340-600, or a la 777-200 to 200ER and 300 so enlarged wing etc, but a completely new family is too expensive for that small market. On top of that, economically, economies of scale should really pay out if you stay in the same family. This time, they are running against the 777 in its 4th iteration, so a 30 year old family. That should be feasible.
    Besides that, they must leave resources available and react quickly, once B comes up with the 737 successor. So, A has plenty of things to do that generates more $ instantly: 320 neo, 330whatever, remaining 350 members, possible 350-1100, improved 380, maybe even improved and stretched 321 with new wings…

  6. Well my idea was the cross section could be very efficient. Less aisle per seat and oversized cargo deck compared to the A380.


    IMO there is no no- go area under the A380. All 747s have been there for 45 yrs and changed long haul travel.

    It would be more logical for Boeing to launch an aircraft there. Stretching the 777 a few rows and putting in small seats doesn’t make it an VLA of course. Unless you want it too.

    Call me conservative I’m not yet convinced about the 777X, the magical wing, its high OEW and 17 inch seats for 14-16 hours. After 2020.

    • The “No seat with only one exit path” requirement reduces the available solutions
      significantly. ( i.e. nose and upperdeck seating on the 747 are no longer
      certifiable for a nongrandfathered design.)
      this imho kills unequal length decks.

      • If the cockpit would have about the same position as that of the A380, I can’t see why you couldn’t have the same “arrangement” forward of the wing. On the A380-800 there are no upper deck U1L and U1R doors (i.e. there’s not even a fuselage cut-out for U1L/U1R). Passengers board through U2L, and first class passengers have exit paths through 2L/2R, and down to M1L/M1R by the forward staircase. Same thing for “my” one-and-a-half-deck design, with the difference being, of course, that no passengers would be seated aft of doors 2L/2R on the short upper deck.

        • AFAIK, on the A380, the stairs were not used during the evacuation certification trial in Hamburg as they were not considered as a means of evacuation.*** Hence, IMJ there would be no requirement for two separate staircases on a one-and-a-half decker. As for loosing too much “real estate, you should try to maximise the effective floor area on the upper deck between doors U1L/U1R (optional) and U2L/U2R, by locating the stairs either in front of doors U1L/U1R, or aft of U2L/U2R. Obviously, some “real estate” would be lost on the main deck with either option.

          ***Of course, in a true life-and-death situation, some people would probably use the stairs

  7. The B747 is dead for a reason.
    Using the “hump” for passengers was not intended in the first place.
    As long as you stick to making sketches and images you won’t recognize the inherent problems which exist in some segments.
    Best is observation: aircraft are available currently (reference single class layout) 150-220 seats (single aisle), 330-550 seats (B787 > B777X), 850-1100 seats (A380-800 > “1000”). Multiply by .65-.8 to get to approximate 3-class seat count. Other died out.

    • The 747 featured a rather crude hump, a double bubble with a fatigue weakness in the nose Section-41 on early models. The 747 nose section may look iconic, but it certainly doesn’t represent state-of-the-art-aerodynamics. The nose section of a state-of-the-art, one-and-a-half deck, widebody aircraft should have a continuous curvature, or tapered, upper forward fuselage, while having the same cockpit position as that of the A380. For example, due to modern composite construction techniques and computational fluid dynamics, that’s a much easier thing to accomplish today than what was the case with the 747 in the 1960s. Incidentally, Boeing at the time planned to build the supersonic Boeing-2707. Not only was that aircraft going to be built using sixties construction techniques, but it was to have a cross-section made up of variable diameter circular sections, a far more challenging and expensive undertaking than just designing the hump on the 747.

  8. Schorsch, you seem to assume that if there currently is no new offering in a segment, there is no demand or possible product? If something died out, it can be reborn IMO. Specially if new technology is born. There are no natural no-go areas. Route networks and demand are much more gradual. Airlines use whats available and fits best. OEMs can’t fill all requirements. Markets change too. Thats all.

    • The demand is rather continuous from 100 to 650 seats (there is no need for specifically 300 or 400 seats). The airlines demand a capacity range and lowest cost (per seat mile). Cost is the big issue, capacity is somewhat flexible. In the 100-650 seat range there are some sweet spots: the 180-220 seat region, the 300-400 seat region. You can build any aircraft, but it might be worse in terms of cost per seatmile. The evolution of the market let the offering somehow drift to these points (Adam Smith’s invisible hand).
      As I always point out: seats are relative and depending on airline layout. Cargo is nice but rarely a driver for a design.
      Example: A321 sell like hot cake, but there is no offering above the A321 until you reach the B787 (B767 considered no offering any more). A gap by 4000nm and 110 seats, in the absolute center of the market. Strange, isn’t it?


      • Not so strange. A300, A310, 767-200 and -300, 757-200 fil(ed) that segment, still 1000+ around. Airlines now have to buy A321s increasing frequency, A330/787 and lower frequencies or them fill up somehow. Not because of some natural progression or evolution, but because the OEMs made a different choice. If a 757/767 like aircraft existed today 25% better, less A321s/787s would be sold.

        • A current technology B767 (resembling for example the payload-range of a B767-300) would be better, sure. But it wouldn’t reach the cost per seat mile of a modern single aisle (at least not on 2000nm missions). Hence, it remains in disadvantage and will never achieve the profit of the better offering.
          Aerodynamic and propulsive technologies are continuous, the payload section is not. At one point you need a second aisle, that ruins your “aera specific payload” until this effect fades out at 9 abreast (B787) (a single aisle remains the more economic design up to 280-300 seats). A similar “gap” is given by the single/twin deck discontinuity. As company with limited resources you simply don’t go there. A310, B767 and B757 were build at times when there were drastic leaps in technology (high bypass turbofan) and very different market place.

      • I agree. At the end of the 757’s life there was little to no demand. Boeing kept the line open for well past the program’s natural life. If there had been more of a market pull a next gen 757 would have been a natural market progression. When the 757 was around the A321 was a dog and a half. No one wanted it, but the market changed and cpacity models changed making an exsiting 757 and a well upgraded A321 worth an investment.

    • That’s only half the story. They want widebodies but say the 788 is too small.

      • To me, the interesting part of the Lion Air cancelling the 788s is that they said they were too small, but elected not to go for the 789 or 7810, presumably because they want to use the new wbs on domestic trunk routes and they are too much aircraft. Must bode well for the A330R.

  9. Hmmm – honestly, I don’t think there is going to be a clean-sheet 1:1 757 replacement by either manufacturer. Given the resources a clean-sheet design requires these days, both with try to cover that market with long range 737 MAX and A320neo for now. When the time comes for the clean-sheet replacement aircraft, Boeing and Airbus are likely going to incorporate the 757 niche into the new plane’s design envelope.
    Regarding the megatwin: If Airbus are just concerned about the 777-9, they’d be much better off developing an A350-1100. That would also make best use of an existing programme instead of launching another clean-sheet design, which would take much longer to develop, and which would also have to consist of a family of two or three variants – that would end up not just covering the 777-9, but also be competing with the A350-1000 and/or A380. Don’t think Airbus want that just yet.

    The comments under that Aviation Week article are quite comical, by the way.

    • I’m with you on all points. The 757/A321/737-9 replacements will be when a new narrow body strategy hits the clean sheets. The A350 family is the right place to start for all wide body configs. Airbus might have been smarter when they did the initial planning, to say that it will replace ALL current configs except the A380. Given customer a real timeline for the ends of the A330, A340, and the prior floated A350 concepts. Not doing that has resulted in so much worthless market noise, and maybe GE and Pratt would have played in the Airbus sandbox. Think of what a gamer changer a game changer a GTF XWB would have been!!!. Now the world waits for the next strange config concept.

  10. Airbus will not launch a new WB this decade. They said so. The A350 XWB has been successful in stealing the biggest 777 customers, EK, UA, AF/KL, AA, BA, CX, JAL, SQ. ANA and KA are the only big ones not buying the XWB until now. A smashing success.

    Repeating, shouting the narrow 777 seats are perfectly ok, doesn’t change their dimensions for long flights. If Airbus does a A350-1100, it will have the same capacity and be 20-22 metric tonnes lighter, and still be able to do flights from Asia. That is too much to ignore.

    People talk like the 777X success is a done deal. The 773ER operators aren’t exactly stumbling over each other securing 777X slots, are they? Is the EK order even confirmed? Boeing needed them badly, how much are they paying? Are we pulled into a media rush again?

    “Finally, Airbus is doing something a supplier should do. Produce solutions the market is asking for, not offering warmed over mess!!!!”

    I7room. Frankly I wonder if we are looking at the same market. Were the A300 (first big twin), FBW A320, A330/340 family concept or A380 a warmed over mess? In what sense? Are the 747-8, KC767, 737MAX, 777X not warmed over? Why not? Just wondering.

    I think the next new design will be Boeing, Either a 737, a 757/767 class medium range aircraft or VLA. I guess a 737 replacement.

  11. I am not sure if the Geared Turbofan concept can be scaled, and if it would yield such great advantages compared to current engines on B787 and A350. A three-spool design already has quite comparable advantages.

    • Increasing fan diameter demands reduced revs on the LP spool.
      A low rev LP spool increases (not only) LP turbine diameter and number of
      required stages.
      Thus I would expect GTF attractiveness to increase together with BPR and thermal efficiency.

  12. Now that India has opened up access to A380s, I wonder if we’ll see some of the Doric A380s destined for Air India.

  13. “We think these plans are going to have to change when Boeing launches a replacement for the 757, followed by the 737RS, which we have for the end of this decade.”

    US transcon it seems the A321 will start dominating towards the end of this decade, 60-80 deliveries/yr. The new AA will have 300 + options, Jetblue is building up as are Hawaiian and Spirit. I can see Delta ordering at least an additional 100 and United being forced to do the same when the GTF grows the performance gap with the 737-900ER and -9.


    If Boeing would respond with an aircraft that can handle up to 250 seats too, Airbus would probably dive under it with a lighter & leaner aircraft optimized for 140-180 seats < 1500NM. Guess where 90% of the flights are..

    Both OEMS have an interest to see what the other does first. Boeing doesn't seem in an easy position here with the 737.

  14. Boeing will most likely “attack” at the upper end of current single capacity. You have issues there: wing will exceed ICAO III span limit, thus being a headache for (gate-)capacity constrained airports. An all-new single aisle which directly takes over the current capacity range has two issues: first, with launch the current product will be instantly devalued. Shrinking, or disappearing, margins. Second, ramping up to ~50+ is a massive undertaking and probably impossible to realize while retaining the existing supply chain.
    One possible way: supplement the B737MAX with a larger aircraft (180-250 seats) with a rather conventional aircraft from 2025, and replacing the lower range (130-200 seats) with a new technology aircraft by 2030 (open rotor).

    A & B can be grateful that China and Russia are launching quite backward oriented designs: the Chinese are copying (in terms of technology, capacity, range) the A320, the Russians are not quite far from it. So, both designs (when having achieved EIS and worldwide certification by 2020) decrease margin, but will not be best-in-class.

  15. With the ability of LionAir to surprise the industry, dont be surprised to see them take a few of the Doric A380’s.
    There was a very strong rumour a while back that Garuda would be a customer citing the Haj as a reason, so Lion may not be such a wild idea.

  16. Nice 777 model, great perspective on crew rest module. 1/2″ pitch is rough, but still nine abreast. 🙂

  17. Saying that Lion Air will replace it’s 787 with A330R sounds like a vague conclusion. Let’s make it clear and follow the official statement before making a conclusion, Mr Rusdi said that 787 is too small, he never said “having too much range”. besides A330R is not bigger than 787 in terms of size.

    Right now they have 2 747-400 doing mostly nothing and now seems like it’s the perfect Time to order 777 given its availability, size, and capacity. 10 abreast on 777 (or A350) will be perfect for Lion Air’s Business model and it seems to be the Next logical move for them that He even once stated will order 777.


    He’s compromising the size rather than range.

  18. I’m curious about the operating changes that ATR wishes to pursue, and Alenia/EADS’ position there.
    Couldn’t Alenia create a JV with ATR, allowing disproportionate investment and development resources from Alenia,
    for a larger total share (split between direct stake in JV and holding in ATR)? That doesn’t really require a change in ATR’s structure, if EADS is OK with a smaller minimal investment from ATR directly…???

    • ATR already is a joint venture (50:50) between Airbus and Alenia 😉

      How much does ATR rely on parent resources for delevelopement ?
      IMU quite a bit. So a new project is dependent on available resources
      at Airbus and Alenia. And being a Euro style JV workshare must
      mimic the ownership distribution.

    • ATR CEo says he has a 2 page list of operators that want him to build the 90 seater. And I believe him. I wouldn’t be surprized if a politcial / strategical battle is behind this, rather then just the investment. A faster very efficient 90-120 seater would hurt Bombardier, Embraer, AVIC, MHI. E.g. Airbus prefers to build together with the Chinese on a MA-700 like project. Or strike a deal with Embraer, while the Italians simply see a market and want to launch.

      • A modern ATR turboprop may hurt feelings at CASA with its C-295. EADS has a complete new wing design for such an aircraft: the A400 plastic wing.

  19. An updated ATR-92 would probably be minimum change.
    – the wing need to be larger
    – probably a different engine, maybe the one of the Q400
    – system architecture and fuselage diameter would remain the same

    The other option is an all-new turboprop family with a new fice-abreast fuselage, and entirely new airframe and wings. Doubt it, as the margin in this segment is very small.

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