ATR vise une amélioration de 20 % du rendement énergétique global de sa nouvelle famille d

ATR prêt à lancer une nouvelle génération d’avions régionaux très éco-responsables

Yes, if Airbus and Leonardo did. The two shareholders of the world leader in regional aviation have enabled ATR to consider the marketing in 2030 of a new generation of turboprops, called ATR EVO. More specifically, during a board meeting held at the start of the year, they authorized the Franco-Italian manufacturer to launch a feasibility study on major incremental improvements to the current cell.

“When we look at the optimization of our aircraft in terms of structure, there is no reason to change everything. This study, launched jointly within the GIE of ATR with Leonardo and Airbus, allows us to project ourselves towards the ‘coming”, explains to La Tribune the commercial director of ATR, Fabrice Vautier. This feasibility study will include a technical study and a market study, which will complete the work already discreetly launched internally for several months on this project.

“Today, we are in a phase of consolidating the ideas that we have worked on internally in terms of sizing but also feedback from our customers”explains to La Tribune the technical director of ATR, Stéphane Viala.

See you in 2023

Over the next few months, ATR will continue to work with airlines, engine manufacturers and system suppliers with the aim of taking a decision to launch the program as early as 2023. The Toulouse aircraft manufacturer did not wish to communicate the amount of the funding for this project. Last November, the Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer had already launched the re-engining of its range of aircraft (ATR 72 and 42) thanks to engines that consume a little less kerosene and are more efficient in support. The first deliveries of these aircraft to Air Corsica are scheduled for November this year.

Very clearly, Airbus and Leonardo believe in the future of ATR. What was not won in advance. “Our shareholders believe in our future, confirms Fabrice Vautier. There is absolutely no doubt about it. They have demonstrated this to us by allowing us to move forward on this subject. This decision is fundamental and it is a very strong sign.”. Even if it is not clearly a program for a new aircraft starting from scratch… Airbus thus refused ATR for several years to launch a 90-seat aircraft.

CO2 emissions “near zero”

Outraged an ultramodern design and a new propulsion system, these aircraft (ATR 42 and 72) will rely on innovative technologies that will allow improve performance of the aircraft, its operational costs and its environmental footprint. “Its key assets are a 20% improvement in overall fuel efficiency and its 100% SAF compatibility. In other words, powered by kerosene, the aircraft will emit more than 50% less CO2 than a regional jet. With 100% SAF, its emissions will be close to zero”explains the executive chairman of ATR, Stefano Bortoli, quoted in the press release published on Wednesday.

“This new generation of aircraft will allow us to take a further step towards responsible aviation, through new incremental innovations. Once marketed, the new ATR EVO will pave the way for a carbon-free future for air transport”, estimates Stefano Bortoli .

ATR “also targets a 20% reduction in overall maintenance costs”specifies to La Tribune Fabrice Vautier. “We are also developing technologies with suppliers that will allow us to reduce maintenance costs related to the de-icing system by switching to an electric system”, adds Stéphane Viala. The performance improvement is to be compared with aircraft currently in production, not those that will be powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada’s new PW127XT engine. An engine whose maintenance costs will be reduced by 20%. Typically, engines account for half of an aircraft’s maintenance costs.

A hybrid engine in flight

As always, propulsion will be the key to the success of this program. “We have sent a Request for Information to the main engine manufacturers for the development of the new propulsion system, which will combine current and next-generation engine technologies”, emphasizes Stéphane Viala. The manufacturer wants to have a “traditional engine that is hybridized in flight with an electrical source”, specifies the technical director of ATR. The answers of the engine manufacturers will allow, within the framework of this feasibility study, the manufacturer to understand “how he will be able to achieve the performance objectives pursued”. In 2023, ATR will decide to launch this new aircraft after carrying out “the balance sheet of all the arbitrations to define what product we will launch”.

“The idea is to use electric propulsion to globally optimize the way in which thrust is generated, particularly during takeoff and when the aircraft is climbing, and to share this effort between two energy sources, the “electric and thermodynamic. In addition, the fact of reducing the size of the engine will allow us to save fuel. Which will also allow us to be more economical on the SAF”, explains Stéphane Viala.

Because ATR intends to bet enormously on the Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) to reduce the environmental footprint of its future aircraft, which will be 100% compatible with SAF. He intends to have the 100% SAF certification of its aircraft powered by the PW127XT by 2025. “This is an important area on which we are working”underlines the technical director. “In terms of CO2 emissions, we will be at very, very low levels on the new family. We will not be at zero but we will be close to them. We should reduce them by 82% with the SAFs”he believes. The manufacturer is also working a lot on theeco-design, which also reduces the weight of the aircraft. Whether on new propellers (six or eight blades?) or on a cabin equipped with lighter bio-sourced materials (hemp or linen fibers). “Recyclability will also be at the heart of our new design”says Stéphane Viala.

“Our planes represent the aviation benchmark in terms of carbon emissions. It is our duty for customers and political actors to move forward on this axis and therefore towards decarbonization”, insists Stéphane Viala.

An aircraft supposed to expand the market for ATR

For airlines, this new plane will be timely. As‘ATR EVO will be even more economic, “airlines will be able to serve routes with low passenger flows in a more cost-effective way”believes Fabrice Vautier. This plane will allow us to really respond to what the market expects in terms of decarbonization, he specifies. This is very important for mature markets – Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand. It will also meet the expectations of many of our customers in emerging countries – Indonesia, India, Brazil – for whom the operating cost remains a very, very important parameter.. These strengths, which we want to strengthen, will allow us to remain the leader in our market with a more efficient aircraft.”.

The regional aviation market, and in particular turboprops, is now in a recovery phase. “We saw a clear upward trend in 2021, with positive signs of a recovering market”, estimated in early February the general manager Stefano Bortoli. Fabrice Vautier says he feels it when he meets airlines. “There are even a number of markets that are exceeding the traffic levels that there were before the crisis”, he explains. Also, after two difficult years in 2020 and 2021 (respectively 10 and 31 deliveries), turnover will be boosted by the increase in deliveries. This year, ATR aims “just under 40 deliveries”then in 2024, “about fifty deliveries”. This will result in an industrial ramp-up.