ATR 42-600 proves its quality in serving high-altitude airports with successful Demo Tour
Franco-Italian turboprop manufacturer ATR today finished the successful demonstration of its 42-600 series aircraft's high-altitude performance in challenging mountainous environments. The Demo Tour saw the aircraft visit several airports in Yunnan Province, South-Western China, such as Diqing, Lijiang and Kunming. With a specially designed Chinese livery, prominently displaying the words 'Highland Eagle' in Mandarin script, the aircraft lived up to its name by taking-off from and landing in Diqing – situated 3,287m, or 10,787 feet, above sea level – the highest-altitude airport that an ATR 42-600 has ever served and for which is it fully certified. Officials and pilots from local airlines were on board throughout the tour to witness firsthand the operational capabilities and the innovation that drives its market-leading performance.
ATR Chief Executive Officer Stefano Bortoli was present to celebrate the achievement and commented that "the ATR 42-600, after arriving in Diqing, has achieved another record, going up to its highest taking-off and landing levels. The fact that it operates perfectly from challenging airfields offering the lowest operational costs, shows that it is the perfect modern solution to enhance China's regional connectivity. No other regional aircraft in production could regularly serve Diqing in a General Aviation configuration and this highlights its remarkable versatility and performance, even in 'hot and high' conditions, surrounded by challenging terrain. I thank all those that have made this demo tour in Yunnan a success."
The ATR 42-600's high-altitude performance is complemented by its new Standard 3 avionics suite. Featuring a Required Navigation Performance (RNP-AR) of 0.3/0.3, that offers a guidance precision of 0.3 nautical miles, allowing for a more accurate navigation in take-off and landing phases, a clear operational advantage when serving airports located in mountainous regions. RNP-AR 0.3/0.3 can also offer shorter tracks meaning lower fuel, increased payload through reduced climb gradients requirements, and a decision altitude advantage – allowing pilots to make a decision on landing at a lower altitude – reducing the occurences of flight disruption. Standard 3 avionics offers the option of the Thales Synthetic Vision System that was also demonstrated to guests. Displaying images of terrain from a database, the SVS improves a pilot's situational awareness during situations of reduced visibility.
ATR estimates that China will need 1,100 turboprop aircraft to serve its developing Regional (300) and General Aviation (800) segments. Regional aircraft currently represent only 2% of China's fleet, compared with a worldwide average of 25%. As such, regional routes are often operated inefficiently by large jets, which require large subsidies for airlines to break-even while cost efficient turboprop ATR aircraft could provide the perfect solution.