By Bjorn Fehrm
June 15. 2015, C. Leeham Co: ATR said its turboprop product has broken a barrier that was thought impossible for regional turboprops at its Paris Air Show press briefing today. It was a company telling about being in a strong market and enjoying a market leading position. ATR sold its 1500th aircraft to Japan Airlines Commuter (JAC), the regional daughter of Japan Airlines. JAC signed for eight ATR 42 to replace the Saab 340 fleet. JAC also holds options for a further 15 aircraft. The order was the first for ATR aircraft to Japan.
ATR, which is owned 50:50 by Airbus and Finmeccanica of Italy with headquarters in Toulouse, is dominating the under 90 seat worldwide turboprop market. ATR said that it will unveil business for 46 aircraft during the air show with 35 options as it continues to dominate the world market for turboprops which seats up to 90 passengers. ATR claims it has controlled 77% of the market since 2010 to date and that its customer base during that time was 51 customers versus nearest competitor’s 24.
Key to success
ATR’s CEO, Patrick de Castelbajac, said the key to ATR’s success is relatively simple aircraft which therefore achieves a very high reliability and cost-effectiveness. He mentioned that the airline BinterCanarias, which bought six ATR 72-600s, had achieved 99:9% operational reliability during its first year of operation. Paired with an attractive purchase price and a well-working worldwide service network, these are the pillars for the recent success for ATR.
To continue to stay at the forefront of customers requirements, ATR has done several developments:
To enhance the operation reliability of the aircraft further, ATR revealed that it is developing improved avionics to enable the aircraft to operate in more adverse weather. The first is a new type of visions system in the shape of a head mounted display in the form of a visor which renders heads up display symbology with flight path vector information into the pilots line of sight. This works as a heads up display without the complexity of installing such a device in aircraft’s cockpit. Through line of sight presentation of ILS, LPV and RNAV landing information, the minima for such procedures can be reduced by 50%. ATR is also working on a laser based wind shear detection system for its turboprops.
Expansion for success
ATR is in the lucky position, according to de Castelbajac, to have continued sales success on all five continents. The only major country where one is not presently present is mainline China. To change this position, ATR is opening a representation office in China this year. In addition to sales activities the service and support network is continually expanded with a new spare parts warehouse being established in Brazil during 2015.
The only expansion that seems to evade ATR is the grant from the mother companies to expand the product line with a new development for the 100 seat turboprop market. De Castelbajac said the mother Airbus does not see the time being right for such an expansions right now.