With turboprops taking the world by storm with their economical fuel consumption and long-range capabilities, many passengers and pilots alike share an appreciative opinion of the well-known ATR aircraft.
The ATR 42 and the ATR 72 are two twin-engine turboprop aircraft that carry high reputations thanks to their excellent performance. While one is noticeably larger than the other, there are different positives associated with either model.
If your next flight is on an ATR 42 or an ATR 72, or you are simply curious, you should enjoy learning valuable information about these aircraft and seeing how they compare.
The name ATR has a unique meaning to its name. Being a joint company owned by French and Italian groups, its name is both Aerei da Transporto Regionale in Italian and Avions de Transport Regional in French. The company was formed in 1981 by the French company Aeropostale and the Italian company Aeritalia.
While the fuselage and tail sections of the aircraft are produced in Italy, the wings, final assembly, and testing are completed in France. So far, the company has sold more than 1,500 aircraft to over 100 countries. Its two main products, of course, are the ATR 42 and the ATR 72.
The ATR 42 was launched in 1981 to mark the beginning of ATR. Its type certificate was granted in 1985 and the aircraft received the name “42” because of its ability to carry between 40 and 52 passengers. The many variants of the ATR 42 introduced over the years include new avionics and better engine equipment, making it an aircraft that is still flown today and is popular with many airlines.
The ATR 72 had its first flight in 1988. It is very similar to the ATR 42, with its name being “72” thanks to its seat range of 72 to 78 passengers. The ATR 42 had its fuselage stretched for more cabin space and was given a larger wingspan and more powerful engines with extra fuel capacity in order to create the 72. In 1989, Finnair was the first airline to put the ATR 72 into service, with very positive results and passenger feedback.
The range is the distance and time at which the aircraft can fly. It is determined by the aircraft’s weight and power, as well as the weather. Regional carriers will choose the aircraft to add to their fleet based on its performance, including range. Turboprop aircraft are known for their exceptional performance.
The ATR 42 comes in different variants, the more recent of which is the -600 that made its debut in 2007. With a seating arrangement for 48 passengers and completely loaded, the ATR 42 can travel a distance of up to 716 nautical miles, approximately 823 miles.
The ATR 72 on the other hand is a slightly larger aircraft, with more powerful engines and a larger capacity for fuel. The ATR 72 has a range of up to 825 nautical miles, approximately 949 miles with a typical passenger load of 70 occupants.
When it comes to air travel, the benefit of having more passengers is dependent on perspective. For the company, more passengers mean more revenue and tend to be more cost-effective. For the traveler, however, fewer seats often mean more comfort and legroom, providing a more pleasant flight.
The ATR 42 has a capacity of 40 to 52 passengers. The number is decided by the company purchasing the aircraft and installing corresponding seats during the manufacturing process. The ATR 72 on the other hand can have between 72 and 78 passengers. For both aircraft, seats are arranged in two rows of pairs along the length of the cabin.
These ATR aircraft can do long flights that benefit their operators by increasing their number of destinations and providing a service that can provide travelers travel for low ticket prices.
In fact, one of the longest turboprop routes is flown by the ATR 42. Calm Air uses an ATR 42 for their flight between Sanikiluaq and Winnepeg, a distance of 872 miles. This is possible due to the way the aircraft is loaded, its weight, and the weather involved. A significant tailwind will aid the aircraft in increasing their range, providing longer routes.
Another long turboprop flight is flown by the ATR 72-600 model. It is flown by Air Tahiti and is 1,028 miles between Papeete and Totegegie in Tahiti. The flight takes 3 hours and 45 minutes there and up to 4 hours on the way back.
Aviation is a booming business where companies look for the most cost-effective method to generate profit. The cost of the aircraft is an important consideration when calculating their return.
The ATR 42-600 variant costs approximately 9.5 million USD, new. Meanwhile, the ATR 72-600 can cost up to 26 million USD. The exact price is dependent on additional features such as the number of seats, the radio and navigation systems, horsepower, and other considerations.
Passenger comfort is an important benefit when it comes to considering a flight in a turboprop. Because these aircraft are generally smaller, many assume that the flight will be less comfortable compared to that of a Boeing or Airbus. However, many passengers who fly in the ATR aircraft enjoy it to the point where they regularly choose these smaller planes over the large ones.
The ATR aircraft have overhead storage bins that fit a small bag or laptop carry-on. There is also space under the seat for a small backpack or purse. The small room for carry-on makes it so passengers have no choice but to bring less with them during boarding, making the process much quicker and easier.
Most airlines choose a smaller seat capacity in the aircraft to provide more legroom, While the seats don’t always recline, they are often kept at a comfortable angle to allow optimum relaxation. Since it’s unlikely that a flight will be more than a few hours, the seats are perfectly comfortable for short distances.
Safety is an important consideration when it comes to flying in any aircraft. An aircraft with a high accident history might result in an uncomfortable flight filled with stress and worry, so it’s often worth it to check accident history beforehand.
The ATR 42 has been involved in 47 different aviation accidents and incidents. Of those, 34 resulted in hull losses, and there were a total of 276 fatalities. The most recent was on December 13, 2017, when West Wind Aviation flight 280 crashed in Saskatchewan shortly after takeoff. 22 passengers and 3 crew members survived the crash, but one passenger passed away due to their injuries from the accident on December 25.
The ATR 72 has had a total of 46 aviation accidents and incidents, including 29 hull losses and 398 fatalities. The most recent was Iran Aseman 3704, with 66 fatalities after a crash into Mount Dena.
Both of these flights are argued to be the result of pilot error.
At the end of the day, both the ATR 42 and the ATR 72 are exceptional aircraft. While one is slightly larger than the other, they both provide performance levels that make them desirable to many airlines.
Both aircraft also provide a high comfort and safety level for their passengers. Airlines that operate the ATR 42 and the ATR 72 often have travelers returning to them for more flights to different and unique destinations thanks to the delightful experience they have in these aircraft.