Azul and Air Lease to receive ATR 72-600s after Royal Air Maroc

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Brazilian carrier Azul is scheduled to take delivery of three of the 11 ATR 72-600s scheduled for delivery this year.

Turboprop manufacturer ATR unveiled the -600 variant, featuring advanced avionics supplied by Thales, a higher thrust Pratt & Whitney PW127M engine and improved performance in hot and high conditions, in October 2007. ATR is also offering an updated cabin designed in conjunction with Italian designer Giugiaro.

Overall, ATR expects to deliver roughly 50 aircraft this year.

Azul placed a firm order for 20 ATR 72-600s at the 2010 Farnborough Airshow, and ATR chief executive Filippo Bagnato in an interview with ATI states the carrier is taking three of the type this year. He explains Azul and Air Lease, which ordered 10 aircraft at the show, will both start taking deliveries around the same time after the first ATR 72-600 is delivered to Royal Air Maroc.

Azul recently said it was leasing three older model 72-200s ahead of taking delivery of the -600s.

Bagnato says Air Lease, headed by industry veteran Steven Udvar-Hazy, "is very active, as far as I know they have already placed five of those aircraft in Brazil". ATR's chief says the aircraft will be operated "by one of our customers". Bagnato did not elaborate in the identity of the operator, but ATR's second largest customer is Brazilian regional carrier Trip, who last year stated its growth plans for 2012 and beyond included the -600 model.

The -600 is currently in the middle of flight tests with certifying authorities, says Bagnato, to support aircraft certification between April and May of this year.

ATR expects to deliver 70 aircraft in 2012 with the majority comprising the -600, says the company's chief executive. While ATR continues to offer the -500 variant to customers, Bagnato doesn't envisage many -500 deliveries beyond 2012, but he states the airframer will keep the door open to customers that prefer the -500. He explains it makes no sense for a customer with a 30-strong 72-500 fleet desiring three additional aircraft to switch to the -600 version.

Bagnato stresses certifying the 72-600 is ATR's top priority in 2011, and the airframer has no plans to decide on moving forward with a larger 90-seat turboprop this year.