Regional turboprop airliner manufacturer ATR has released its 20-year (2018 to 2037) forecast for global demand for turboprop airliners. It estimates the market at 3 020 aircraft, worth more than $80-billion.
“The key driver for this positive outlook is traffic growth in regional connectivity,” states the company. “This comes from both traditional markets where less connected locations are being connected with direct new regional routes, as well as from emerging markets where the most viable solution for connecting people and transporting goods is turboprop air links.”
Turboprops today operate in the up-to-90- seats regional airliner segment of the industry. ATR’s survey excludes small turboprops in the up-to-40-seats market segment, in which the company does not compete. It divides the the 40-to-90-seat segment into two markets: the 40-to-60-seat market and the 61-to-80-seat market. The company expects almost 80% of demand over the next 20 years (amounting to 2 390 airliners) to be in the 61-to-80-seat market. The remaining 20% (630 aircraft) will be in the 40-to-60-seat market. The biggest market for these airliners will be Asia, which would account for 43%. In second place will be Europe, Africa and the Middle East, with 31%, followed by the Americas, with 26%.
But increased demand for air cargo on regional routes will also stimulate interest in turboprop freighter aircraft, whether converted from airliners or specifically built as freighters. (ATR points out that its recently launched ATR 72-600F is the only regional freighter aircraft that could be bought straight from the factory.) The company estimates the future turboprop freighter market (whether converted or newly built) at up to 460 aircraft.
ATR is a 50:50 joint venture between Airbus and Italian aerospace, defence and security group Leonardo (previously Finmeccanica), with its head office in Toulouse, France. It has two main models in its range – the ATR 42 and the ATR 72. Both, in turn, currently come in two versions: the ATR 42-500, the ATR 42-600, the ATR 72-500 and the ATR 72-600 (plus the freighter version of the latter). The ATR 42 serves the 40-to-60-seat market segment and is the only 50-seat airliner currently in production. The ATR 72 serves the 61-to-90-seat segment. More than 1 100 of these aircraft are operated by more than 200 airlines in almost 100 countries.
Separately, at the start of the month, Airbus announced that its new regional airliner partnership had come into effect. This is with Canadian aerospace company Bombardier (part of the wider Bombardier group) to take a majority share in the latter’s C Series jet airliner programme that had come into effect. The C Series comprises two models: the CS100 and the larger CS300. The new joint venture is designated the C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP). The Airbus holding is 50.01%, while Bombardier retains some 34% and Investissement Québec about 16%.
The CS100 can carry a maximum of 132 passengers, although 120 would be more usual. The CS300 can carry a maximum of 160 passengers, although, again, the more typical layout would be for 130 to 140 passengers. The range of the CS100 is 5 741 km, while that of the CS300 is 6 112 km.
“Airbus’s global reach and scale combine with Bombardier’s state-of-the-art jet aircraft in the C Series,” noted Airbus on its website. “Airbus manufactures, markets and supports the C Series under the aegis of the Airbus-Bombardier partnership . . . These airplanes fill an important niche – covering the segment that typically accommodates 100 to 150 seats – and responding to a worldwide aviation market for smaller single-aisle jetliners, estimated at some 6 000 such aircraft over the next 20 years.”
As part of the deal, CSALP’s head office, primary assembly facility and related activities will remain in Canada’s Quebec province, in the city of Mirabel. Airbus is establishing an additional C Series production line at its already existing assembly plant in the US state of Alabama.
Bombardier Aerospace retains full control over its other manufacturing and associated operations. These include executive aircraft (Bombardier Business Jets, with the Learjet, Challenger and Global brands); smaller regional jet and turboprop airliners (Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, with the CRJ jet family and the Q400 turboprop); aerostructures, system components (electrical harnesses, tubing and ducting), and engineering services; and the conversion of its executive or regional airliner airframes into special mission aircraft for public safety and national defence roles.