ATR’s chief executive officer Stefano Bortoli has hailed a “defining moment” for the company as FedEx Express took delivery of its first purpose-built turboprop regional freighter.

    The ATR 72-600F was manufactured in Toulouse, France and is the first of 30 to be delivered to FedEx as part of an order made in 2017, with an option to purchase 20 more.

    The aircraft will arrive at Shannon Airport and will be operated by ASL Airlines Ireland, a FedEx ATR operator since 2000, as part of the FedEx Express Feeder fleet. This fleet aims to provide fast, economical services to small and medium-sized business areas around the world.

    ATR 72-600F infographic
    Source: ATR. Click to enlarge.

    At a press briefing (held virtually), Bortoli said that while 2020 had been an “unusual year” and had hit aviation hard, the timing of the delivery was “perfect” as increased cargo capacity was high in demand. With the changing market and the growth of e-commerce, the ATR 72-600F offers another “solution for a growing cargo market, especially regional”, he said. “We are fully committed to providing regional and sustainable connectivity. The ATR 72-600F delivers more than just cargo, it helps support communities, businesses and economies.”

    The ATR 72-600F offers 75m3 freight capacity, and its fuselage is a clean design that has been optimised for cargo, ATR said. The aircraft features a large cargo door that facilitates the optimal loading of nine tonnes of payload and offers the option of carrying either bulk cargo or, when in unit load device (ULD) mode, five 88” x 108” pallets or up to seven LD3 containers.

    “Every manufacturer is proud when it develops and delivers a brand new aircraft, and given the uniquely challenging year the industry and the whole world has faced, handing over to FedEx Express this very first ATR 72-600F is an exciting and rewarding moment for our whole team here in ATR,” Bortoli said.

    “Freighters play a huge role in supplying essential connectivity between economies all over the world and the unique aspects of our modern purpose-built freighter mean it will deliver operational benefits to companies that integrate them into their fleet.

    “FedEx is no stranger to ATR, with over 40 of our turboprops in their existing fleet. We are proud to continue this collaboration with this world leader and that they have chosen the ATR 72-600F as part of their fleet renewal programme. This sets FedEx at the forefront of responsible aviation with the most fuel-efficient aircraft currently on the market.”

    ATR 72-600F

    FedEx Express EVP and CEO of Aviation Scot Struminger commented: “The arrival of the first ATR 72-600F is a major milestone in the modernisation of our feeder aircraft fleet, and it positions us strongly to continue growing our global footprint and serve more customers in locations that aren’t always accessible by our larger jet fleet.

    “The ATR 72-600F was constructed with input from FedEx engineers every step of the way, so we’re proud and excited to finally take possession of this impressive aircraft.”

    FedEx Express’s senior vice president air network and GTS Europe Jorn Van De Plas commented: “Today’s delivery of the first ever purpose-built regional ATR freighter marks an exciting new chapter for our FedEx Express Feeder fleet. This is an important step in our fleet renewal strategy, ensuring we remain the most flexible, reliable, and responsible network in the business.

    “During what has been a difficult year both for businesses around the world and for communities, we are proud to remain at the heart of efforts to keep trade flowing and deliver goods across Europe. This new ATR Feeder delivery lines up with our overall ‘Reduce, Replace, Revolutionise’ sustainability approach, replacing older, less efficient aircraft in a more sustainable way.”