European turboprop manufacturer ATR is entering the business aviation market with the launch at EBACE of the ATR Corporate.
"We are working internally on a nickname for the aircraft, but we wanted to come to EBACE to promote the idea of comfort, performance and efficient travel on a platform that is proven," says ATR sales director Milco Rappuoli.
Several airlines have used the best-selling regional turboprop in a quick-turnaround convertible from VIP to shuttle or medevac, but last year the company took an order from a customer in Azerbaijan to deliver a fully equipped VIP aircraft.
"It really worked," says Rappuoli. "In a VIP configuration the aircraft has a range of 1,640nm [3,034km]. In addition the short-field performance -we only need a 900m [2,950ft]strip -means we can reach 25% more airports compared to a corporate jet."
The joint venture between EADS and Alenia has won an order from the Thai air force as a head-of-state aircraft.
"I am astonished at the interest that we are getting at the show," Rappuoli says. "But in the current environment it makes sense. Any emission trading costs will be a third of those for a jet."
The basic corporate variantis priced at $17million and can be configured with a forward VIP lounge of eightseats and a number of different seating options at the rear.
ATR is confident there will be good take-up. "It makes economic sense," says Rappuoli. "Because of the airframe it can be converted back to a passenger or cargo aircraft for relatively little cost to meet the particular needs of the customer, so the asset value remains high."
The ATR has proven capability on unpaved strips. The aircraft can be configured to allow space for horses or falcons as well as VIP passengers. "We see good opportunities for the Middle East where aircraft are often used to fly from the Gulf for hunting trips in places like Azerbaijan. The ATR Corporate will be able to land right at the hunting site."