French airframer ATR has officially launched flight testing of the successor to its ATR 42-500 turboprop aircraft, the ATR 42-600.
ATR unveiled the -600 variant for its ATR 42 and 72 models in late 2007. The ATR 72-600 launched its fight test programme in July of 2009.
The flight test aircraft, a new-build example powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127M engines, took off from Toulouse, France today at 15:00 CET and completed a 2h flight.
ATR plans a 75h flight test campaign for the aircraft, and today's flight consisted of tests to examine engine performance and the functioning of the new avionics featured on the aircraft.
Thales is supplying the avionics for the ATR 42-600's cockpit that comprises a flight-management system, satellite-based landing and navigation and a new autopilot.
During today's flight pilots also tested hydraulic and electrical systems and blades balancing.
ATR says the high level of commonality between its ATR 42 and ATR 72 models will allow the ATR 42-600 to benefit from testing already completed in the ATR 72-600's flight test campaign. Both models are scheduled to enter service in 2011.
In late 2009 ATR unveiled a break-even target of roughly 150 aircraft for the -600 series. As of 18 January 2010 the airframer had posted 59 firm orders for the variant.