Calling 2011 its "best-selling year ever", ATR has revealed a raft of fresh turboprop orders - including six undisclosed deals covering 51 aircraft - that bring its year-to-date tally to a record 145 firm orders.

During the ERA General Assembly in Rome, ATR chief executive Filippo Bagnato said the six undisclosed deals, which were secured after the Paris air show, comprise orders for 47 ATR 72s and four ATR 42s.

He also took the opportunity to announce a new order with Danish regional aircraft leasing company Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) for two ATR 72-500s, and to formally ink a previously-disclosed commitment with NAC for the sale of 10 ATR 72-600s plus options for 10 more of the type.

Furthermore, US lessor Air Lease Corp, which in 2010 booked an order for 10 ATR 72-600s plus 10 options - revealed it has converted two of its options to firm orders; deliveries of the two aircraft will occur in the spring of 2013.

Referring to ATR's recent sales successes, Bagnato quipped "during the summer, we did something". He said the orders underlie "the increasing interest of leasing companies into new ATR aircraft", and noted that 20% of this year's sales have been booked with leasing companies.

The ATR chief also pointed out that, as of today, the ATR Series has become the best selling product family among 50-90-seat regional aircraft in 2011. He said ATR's market share in turboprop aircraft sales from 2005 to present has grown to 63% compared to the 37% share held by arch rival Bombardier.

With a total of 275 on order, ATR's backlog - its strongest ever - is valued at $6.2 billion, representing four years of production. The company will deliver about "53 [or] 54" aircraft this year, said Bagnato, but intends to ramp up production in order to deliver 72 turboprops in 2012, 80 in 2013 and 85 in 2014.

The result is that ATR is "flying towards a $2 billion/year size" by 2014, he added.

By contrast, Bombardier recently announced it will cut production of its Q400 turboprop at the end of this year. The Canadian airframer has a backlog of just 40 Q400s, although Bombardier senior vice-president, sales, marketing and asset management Chet Fuller remains confident that the company will see a return to Q400 order activity soon.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news