While ATR has set no firm date for expected certification of its -600 series, the Franco-Italian manufacturer is targeting the second quarter of 2011 for first delivery and it is understood that approval could be achieved by the end of the year.
The -600 series flight-test programme involves two aircraft: a 1988-vintage prototype testbed ATR 72-500 airframe, serial number 98, as well as a newly built ATR 42-600, serial number 811.
The ATR 72-500 airframe was brought up to -600 specification with the installation of new cockpit avionics and other features. The ATR -600 family is the successor to the -500 series with improvements including higher-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127M engines, increased weights, an enhanced cabin and all-new Thales flightdeck.
As of September, the -600 series test campaign had clocked around 130h. The manufacturer says the ATR 72-600 has clocked two-thirds of its 150h programme while the ATR 42-600 test programme had clocked around 30h of its estimated 75h programme.
ATR performed its "official" first flight last October.
According to chief executive Filippo Bagnato, the first -600 model will be delivered to Royal Air Maroc, which placed an order in March 2009 for two ATR 42-600s and four ATR 72-600s.