First ATR -600 airborne ahead of 'official' first flight

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ATR's first -600 series aircraft has already carried out test flights, it has emerged, although the manufacturer is insisting that the 'official' first flight will be in September.

A source close to the airframer's test-flight programme in Toulouse states that the aircraft flew towards the end of last week and was scheduled to carry out further flights today.

The source indicates that the first flight with the -600 series variant of the turboprop was successful, although details are sketchy.

The manufacturer has developed the first -600 series aircraft by modifying an earlier ATR 72-500 airframe, serial number 98, to include new avionics and other features.

ATR had recently indicated that the type would conduct its first flight in September. It maintains that this will be the "official" first flight, and declines to confirm the test flights.