Avions de Transport Regional - or ATR - is a joint French-Italian aircraft concern started in the early 1980s to provide short-to-mid-range solutions for global air carriers. The company is well-known for its series of high-winged, twin-turboprop airliners and transports and has produced well over 1,300 examples to date. Its primary products, fitting the aforementioned mold, are the ATR 42 and the ATR 72 series aircraft (the former being the focus of this article and the latter being detailed elsewhere on this site). Their model numbers loosely correspond to the number of seats available in each design (42 and 72).
ATR was originally formed by the partnering of Aerospatiale of France and Aeritalia of Italy. Aerospatiale has since fallen under the Airbus brand label (after it merged with EADS in 2000, EADS then being absorbed by Airbus) with Aeritalia having merged with Selenia in 1990. As such, today (2018) its parent companies are Airbus and Leonardo, each owning a 50% share stake in the company. All ATR aircraft assembled at the French Toulouse facility.
With the establishment of ATR as a company in November of 1981, the company set to work on bringing its first regional-minded ATR 42 to market. This resulted in an aircraft of largely conventional design with mid-range capabilities. The shoulder-wing mounting of the mainplanes was selected to ensure good lifting principles as well as strong control at low speeds. A basic tubular fuselage makes up the central portion/center mass of the aircraft with the cockpit overlooking the short nose section and a "T-style" tail unit (that is the horizontal planes seated high about the vertical tail fin) fitted at the fuselage's extreme aft end. A tricycle undercarriage, wholly retractable, is used for ground-running. Each leg is dual-wheeled to allow the aircraft to land and launch from less-than-prepared runways. Each wing mainplane also carries an embedded engine nacelle under it. These have been Pratt & Whitney Canada turboprop engines for the life of the aircraft - providing the necessary power and range for regional operations.
In its completed form, the prototype "ATR 42-200" went airborne for the first time on August 16th, 1984 over Toulouse airspace. This model carried 2 x PW120 engines of 1,800 horsepower and several test aircraft were built to the original standard. Type certification followed in September of 1985 and the initial "ATR 42-300" production model was delivered to launch carrier Air Littoral of France. Formal service operations began on December 3rd, 1985. From that point on, popularity in this joint-venture "twin" only grew with sizeable orders generated for global customers. Prospects grew so good that the ATR 42 was then introduced to the lucrative North American market with equal success.
The ATR-300 became the initial standardized production mark and was manufactured until 1996. It carried 2 x PW 120 turboprop engines outputting 2,000 horsepower. The ATR 42-300 held a cruising speed of 270 knots with a range of 460 nautical miles. From this design was formed the ATR 42-320 which was marketed as an improved ATR 42-300 series model with better inherent "hot-and-high" operational capabilities - a requirement of aircraft in certain parts of the globe. In this model, the engine series shifted to 2 x PW121 turboprops of 2,100 horsepower.
The ATR 42-400 followed as an upgraded ATR 42-320 and introduced noise-reducing six-bladed propellers while still relying on the PW121 turboprop for power. This model saw only limited production numbers but was also modified to a military-grade Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) platform as the "Surveyor" and taken into service with such authorities as the Italian government. The ATR 42-400 series held a cruising speed of 260 knots with a range nearing 800 nautical miles.
The ATR 42-500 was introduced as an upgraded ATR 42 in October of 1995. All-new engines and propeller units were part of its launch as were internal changes to the cabin and overall performance for the aircraft. The engine series was now the PW127E of 2,400 horsepower which also increased MTOW and cruising speeds while also promoting reduced operating noises. The -500 model was then branched into a VIP airliner model.
The ATR 42-600 was brought online in October of 2007 with PW127M series turboprops offering a slight boost to performance as well as an all-digital, all-glass cockpit for two (Thales avionics). Again the passenger cabin was refined for the better.
Both the ATR 42-500 and ATR 42-600 models held a cruising speed of 300 knots with a range out to 715 nautical miles.
All versions of the ATR 42 featured an operating crew of two with maximum seating for forty-eight. Overall length became 74.4 feet with a wingspan of 80.6 feet and a height of 24.10 feet.
Beyond Italian military operation of the ATR 42 series, other military operators include the Nigerian Air Force (which operates two maritime patrollers) and the Myanmar Air Force (which has two ATR 42-320 models in inventory - 2018). Civil operators range from Japan to Pakistan though some carriers (as well as some military operators such as the Columbian Air Force) have since retired and sold off their ATR 42 fleet.
Due to the early market success being encountered by the ATR 42, the follow-up ATR 72 program (which shares the ATR 42's design, components and production lines) was launched a short time later, on January 15th, 1986. Deliveries of this enlarged form began in September of 1989.
The ATR 42 continues to be actively operated around the world today (2018). Total production has yielded over 475 units with an average per-unit cost of nearly $20 million USD.
April 2019 - ATR is working on securing launch orders for its proposed "short-field" ATR 42-600 production model.
February 2020 - PNG Air of Papua New Guinea has been announced as the launch customer for the new ATR 42-600S Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) variant. These will be used by the carrier to succeed and aging line of de Havilland Canada (DHC) Q100 turboprop utility aircraft.
Canada; Colombia; France; Ireland; Japan; Mexico; Myanmar; Nigeria; Pakistan; Papua New Guinea; Romania; Spain; United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
74.3 ft (22.65 m)
80.5 ft (24.55 m)
24.9 ft (7.60 m)
22,708 lb (10,300 kg)
37,479 lb (17,000 kg)
+14,771 lb (+6,700 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the ATR 42-300 production variant)
2 x Pratt & Whitney PW120, -320 or PW121 turboprop engines developing 1,800 to 1,900 horsepower each.
ATR 42 - Base Series Designation
ATR 42-200 - Prototype models with PW120 engines of 1,800 horsepower.
ATR 42-300 - Initial production model; PW120 engines of 2,000 horsepower.
ATR 42-320 - Upgraded -300 with PW121 engines of 2,100 horsepower; improved Hot-and-High performance.
ATR 42-400 - Modernized -320 with six-bladed propeller units.
ATR 42-400 "Surveyor" - Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) based in the -400 series model.
ATR 42-500 - Modernized model of 1995; new powerplants with revised internals and increased performance with increased MTOW; PW127E engines of 2,400 horsepower.
ATR 42-500 VIP - VIP passenger transport.
ATR 42-600 - Model of 2007; PW127M engines of improved power output; all-glass cockpit.
ATR 42-600SF ("Short-Field") - Proposed short-field variant of the ATR 42-600 model.
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
This entry's maximum listed speed (311mph).
Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era Span
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (476)
Compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian).
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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