Propellers are still fashionable ATR 42, ATR 72

The ATR Aircraft 42/72

For the ordinary passenger, not tempted by aviation science, planes with propellers are the vestiges of a past age in aviation. in the first half century of the history of aviation, planes were equipped with piston engines that rotate the propeller which, due to being shaped like a small wing and, of course, the rotation, produces a force which pulls (or pushes) the plane forward, depending on where the engine is located. After the appearance of much more powerful jet engines, propellers gave way to big passenger airliners and high-speed combat aircraft. Even so, there is still a certain segment in which passenger propeller planes are indispensable. This is the story of the ATR 42/72 – one of the most modern representatives of this type. in the 1950s, propellers were saved from extinction by the mass introduction of gas turbine engines in civil aviation.

Although the principle of their action is closer to that of a jet engine, gas turbines produce a rotating movement to drive the propeller. Thus equipped with these engines, also known in aviation as turboprop engines, in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s several successful passenger aircraft designed to service regional flights were created. Although slower than jet planes and flying at lower levels, these shortcomings are less evident during the short-haul regional flights they operate. Besides, all this comes at the price of much lower fuel consumption – which is crucial for any airline company in 1981, the french Aérospatiale and the italian Aeritalia decided to create a joint venture to design and construct a new generation of short-haul planes powered by a turboprop engine.

The venture became known as ATR. ATR launched the design of a small passenger plane powered by two turboprop engines. The machine became known as the ATR 42 and conducted its maiden flight on 16 August 1984.

atr-72-500

The aircraft quickly obtained the necessary certification and carried out its first commercial flight on 9 December 1985. Thanks to its fuel-efficient engines and low noise levels, the earliest ATR 42-200 model quickly earned itself a favourable position in the marketplace. in just a short time several models were launched – the 300, 320 and 400, with each boasting a number of improvements over the previous model in 1996, the 500 model was put into production, featuring more powerful, quieter and economical engines, improved electronics and added passenger comfort.

Along with the success of the ATR 42, the company received enquiries about the possibility of creating a somewhat bigger aircraft with the same excellent properties. Thus, on 27 October 1988, a 4.5 m (14.7 ft) longer ATR 72 (the figure once again standing for seating capacity) made its maiden flight. The ATR 42 and ATR 72 continue to be manufactured and successfully sold throughout the world. About 200 airline companies across the world use the type.

More About ATR Aircraft