Market for ATR72-600s Weakens with Age

November 12, 2018

The age profile of the ATR72-600 has taken its toll on values and will continue to do so.

The ATR72-500 and -600 were first produced some 23 years and seven years ago respectively so are far from fresh to market. For the -500 this means that operators are already well into the replacement phase and that there have already been considerable problems for the -600. The lease rentals of the ATR72-600 have suffered more recently and have not really recovered. Nearly two years ago the planned and unexpected release onto the market of a number of ATR72-600, coupled with strong levels of deliveries of new aircraft, led to something of a surplus. While aircraft were placed, the lease rentals of the ATR72-600 experienced a significant fall. Lease rentals of newer aircraft fell from some $170,000 per month to less than $130,000. The lease rentals have recovered to some extent but still remain lower than before the falls. The problem lay with the number of aircraft placed onto the used market in a relatively short timeframe. The issue is one of the number of aircraft in storage with some suggestions that there are more than 60+ -500s in storage and another 40+ -600s. This is a large number and is having a major effect on the market.

The ATR72-500 was initially launched as the ATR72-212A, a designation that remains today, and featured some of the improvements made to the ATR42-500 which entered service in October 1996. The -500 made its first flight in 1996 and certification was granted in January 1997. The -500 differs from the -210 in having a six bladed propeller. The interior has also been revamped and features overhead stowage 40% greater than on the – 210. The structure of the -500 was also revised to reduce noise and vibration in the cabin and the interior incorporates noise absorbing materials and tuned vibration dampers which further reduce internal noise levels. Design weights were also changed with the -500. Increased power and improvements in lateral flight control improved take-off and landing performance.

The principal benefits of the -600 center on the increase in weight and the incorporation of more powerful engines in the form of the PW127M. The maximum take-off weight is increased by 300kgs with an optional further increase of an additional 200kgs. Combined with engines that offer more power for hot and high operations, the weight increase represents a significant improvement in operational flexibility and potential increase in revenue. With the average passenger weight in the all important U.S. and European markets increasing, performance of 50 and 70 seat turboprops has been adversely affected on some routes. The increase in MTOW for the ATR72-600 will allow at least the carriage of two more passengers on previously weight restricted routes. The “-600 series” ATR aircraft features an enhanced cockpit, equipped with upgraded avionics instrumentation. This includes the latest and most accurate computing systems for navigation, recording, auto- pilot and communications. A Glass Cockpit flight deck developed by Thales – with 5 wide LCD screens – replaced the existing EFIS (Electronic Flight Instrument System). In addition, a multi-purpose computer (MPC) further enhances flight safety and operational capabilities. The new avionics also provides CAT III approach and RNP (Required Navigation Procedure) capabilities. All these main improvements provide advantages and performance improvements in terms of weight reduction, reliability, energy consumption and durability.

The –600 series includes all the current and future cabin improvements developed by ATR, providing a higher level of comfort and lower interior noise and vibration compared to the existing –500 series. A new cabin styling with totally upgraded furnishings is available on the –600 series as the “Elegance Cabin” version in order to provide enhanced comfort, space and appeal. As in the –500 series, the cabin interior will be fully equipped with LED lighting, and, as an option, with In-Flight Entertainment (IFE). In 2014, P&WC announced the new PW127N engine which powers the ATR72-600 The PW127N offers four-and-a-half per cent more take-off power than the PW127M variant which is the current standard engine serving the ATR family.

Total orders for the ATR72 amounted to over 1226 as of September 2018. The ATR72/-210 secured 187 orders; the -500 365 (all delivered) and the -600 675 orders of which 444 have been delivered. The total orderbook has therefore increased significantly over the last few years with the orders for the -600 easily exceeding those of the -500. Despite recent production increases and decreases, the ATR72-600 order backlog has increased to more than 200 aircraft (3-4 years of production). The operator base of the ATR72 is extensive. With respect to the ATR72-200 specifically, there are 172 in service. The 172 are operated by 55 carriers. There are some 75 operators of the ATR72-500 operating more than 350 aircraft. There are currently more than 444 ATR72-600s in service with 74 operators. The backlog of more than 200 units represents a marked improvement over previous years when aircraft were being virtually produced to order. The demand for the ATR72-600 has been significant. Residual values of the existing ATR42-500 and ATR72-500 experienced only a modest readjustment as a result of the introduction of the -600.

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