Aircraft lessor GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) has signed its first contract with ATR, placing a firm order for 15 ATR 72-600 turboprops plus 15 options.

Four of the aircraft will be delivered in 2012 and 11 are scheduled for delivery in 2013, said ATR chief executive Filippo Bagnato during a press briefing at the Paris air show today. Deliveries of the 15 aircraft on option are planned to begin in 2014.

GECAS chief executive Norman Liu said the lessor is "actively marketing" the aircraft and has already found one customer, the identity of which is not being revealed at this stage.

"We see a lot of replacement opportunities in the future," said Liu, adding that the ATR 72-600s represent "a logical extension of our product family".

Bagnato described the deal, which is valued at $680 million at list prices, as "a very important achievement" for ATR, following on from the agreement it signed with another US lessor - Air Lease - in 2010.

The ATR 72-600 received European Aviation Safety Agency certification in May 2011 and is scheduled to enter service with launch customer Royal Air Maroc this summer.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news