The ATR 72 is a turbojet passenger airplane manufactured by the Italian-European company ATR (Regional Transport Aviation), which specializes in aircraft design capable of carrying 40 to 78 passengers.
The ATR 72 was developed based on the ATR 42 to increase its capacity (from 48 to 78 seats). The length of the fuselage was increased by 4.5 meters, as was the aircraft’s wingspan, engine power, and fuel capacity (10%). The ATR 72 was announced in 1986 and made its first flight on October 1988.
One year later, on October 27, 1989, Finnair was the first company to operate the aircraft. At the beginning of 2013, ATR thus had net orders for 1,254 aircraft (437 ATR 42 and 817 ATR 72), of which more than half were placed since 2005. Indeed, if the company experienced financial problems in the 2000s, the surge in oil prices rekindled the interest of the airlines for this plane which has proved to be very cost-effective.
Facing international competition, ATR has continuously modernized its product, enabling the ATR 72 to become the most popular turboprop on the market.
This aircraft also exists in a cargo version. Equipped with a large cargo door at the front of the fuselage, the ART 72 very quickly attracted freight transport companies early on. ATR has therefore developed several versions dedicated to freight transport. The aircraft is now used by major carriers such as FEDEX, UPS, and DHL.
The -500-version received its certification in 1997. It offers many improvements compared to previous versions: better range, higher maximum take-off weight, and an improved cockpit. However, the main change comes with the engine, as the aircraft now uses the PW127F (Pratt & Whitney Canada, turboprops from 2,000 to 5,000 horsepower) and the PW127M since 2007. The latter is identical to the PW127F except for its propeller with 6 blades instead of 4 as in previous versions.