Regional turboprop specialist ATR has delivered its 900th aircraft - and expects to break the 1,000 barrier within two years.
ATR's second largest customer, Brazil's Trip Linhas Aereas, took delivery of the milestone ATR 72-500 at a ceremony at the airframer's headquarters in Toulouse.
Trip Linhas Aereas operates 12 ATR 42-300/320s, three ATR 42-500s, four ATR 72-200s and 11 ATR 72-500s. So far this year the Brazilian carrier has received three ATR 72-500s. It has another aircraft of the type on backlog for 2011.
Production milestones paint a clear picture of ATR success, especially over the past four-and-a-half years. The manufacturer delivered 200 aircraft during the period, or about 42 aircraft a year on average.
From handover of the first ATR 42 (MSN 004) to Air Littoral in December 1985, it took ATR about 15 years to achieve its 600th delivery, to Air Dolomiti, in April 2000. Six more years elapsed before the 700th shipment, to Air Deccan in September 2006.
But since then the EADS subsidiary has delivered 100 aircraft every two years. It reached the 800th delivery in November 2008 with the handover of one ATR 72-500 to TAT Group, which placed the aircraft on lease to Bangkok Airways.
With a firm order backlog of 152 aircraft (as at July), ATR forecasts a "stabilisation" of deliveries in excess of 50 aircraft yearly. The manufacturer delivered 54 aircraft in 2009 compared with 55 the previous year. As of 3 September, the manufacturer had delivered 30 aircraft this year: one ATR 42-500 and 29 ATR 72-500s.
Backlog at the end 2009 stood at 136 aircraft, but strong sales in the first half increased the backlog to 152, which now represents three years of production.
After this year's Farnborough air show, the manufacturer's backlog included five ATR 42-600s, 84 ATR 72-600s, one ATR 42-500s and 63 ATR 72-500s.
An upgraded -600 version of 70-seat 72-500 is in development and flight-testing for introduction in 2011.