ATR is hopeful that it will secure the first customers for its improved -600 models by mid-2008, as it works to finalise the transition from the current -500 variant to the new version.

The turboprop manufacturer says there are no orders yet for the -600 version of its ATR 42 and ATR 72 range, and has yet to identify any prospective customers.

But ATR head of sales John Moore, speaking to ATI in Paris during the company’s annual briefing, said: “We have a number of new prospects for the -600, and are also talking to customers with existing -500 orders about switching to the new model.”

He adds that he hopes to sign up the first customers by mid-2008. Deliveries of the ATR -600 family are due to begin in late 2010, while production of the -500 is planned to wind down in 2011 – although some -500 firm orders are still allocated to 2012 position slots.

Timing of the switch to sole -600 production is “not defined yet”, says ATR chief executive Stephane Mayer. “We are still in discussions with customers,” he says. “Some don't want to have a mix of the -500 and -600 in their fleets.”

The -600 was launched in October last year. Improvements include a higher-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127M engine, higher weights, enhanced cabin and an all-new Thales flight-deck. ATR has not yet released its latest list prices, but Moore says that the -600 is priced around $700,000 above the -500.

Moore says that, as the various elements of the -600's package are certificated, they will be phased into the -500 production line, and offered as a retrofit – with the exception of the new flight-deck, which is the final element due for approval in 2010.

He says that the first PW127M-powered ATR 72-500 will be delivered by early February, to Cebu Pacific in the Philippines.

Work to clear the CMC Electronics Class 2 PilotView electronic flight bag for the ATR is underway with approval slated for the first half of this year.

Source:'s premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news