May 17, 2016, © Leeham Co.: ATR, the dominant manufacturer of turboprop airliners, last week undertook its first major marketing push in the USA in 10 years.
The US has been the exclusive domain for passenger turboprop service above 50 seats. (FedEx operates ATR cargo aircraft.)
But the time has come for ATR to return to the US for a number of reasons.
Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group, operates 52 Q400s, including 14 Next Gen models, according to the Ascend data base. These are all of them in the US. Horizon is returning 15 of the Q400s come off lease, replacing them with Embraer E175s.
Republic Airways Holdings previously operated the aircraft, but is disposing of them in its bankruptcy process. Air Canada’s regional affiliates operate a number of Dash 8-300s and Q400s. WestJet is a recent, new operator of the Q400.
ATR officials point to the market share dominance in the turboprop market, which has only increased as Bombardier’s financial troubles and singular focus on the C Series increased during the long gestation period of the new mainline jet. ATR has a current order backlog of 250 aircraft; the Q400’s backlog at March 31, the end of BBD’s first quarter, was a mere 33, or an 11.6% share.
ATR’s US tour included major hubs for American, Delta and United airlines as well as Seattle, where Alaska Air Group is headquartered.
The ATR-72-600 has larger overhead bins that accommodate medium-sized roller bags sideways. This is important because the forward boarding door eliminates some baggage space. Officials said the larger overhead will offset some of this loss, but additional space in the rear of the plane, retrieved from the use of the Smart Galley and lav, also offsets the lost space.
LNC rode along on a demonstration flight in Seattle. Like the Q400, the -600 has noise attenuation. In the Q400, this is active; in the -600, it is passive. Aft of the propellers (the quietest part of a propeller aircraft), the -600 is so quiet that conversation of people in the forward part of the cabin can be heard. A 6ft 2in passenger (from Alaska Air Group) was able to stand with headroom to spare.