EASA, the European civil aviation agency, certified the new cargo version of the ATR turboprop on Thursday. Named ATR 72-600F, the aircraft is capable of carrying up to 9 tons of cargo.
The French-Italian manufacturer launched the variant dedicated to cargo transportation in 2017, whose prototype took off for the first time in September.
The turboprop was already used to transport cargo, but in adapted versions. The ATR 72-600F was developed to offer 75 m³ of volumetric capacity, which is sufficient to accommodate seven LD3 containers or five to nine pallets.
The main difference is the installation of a wider front door in addition to the absence of windows. The freighter ATR can fly up to 1,666 km nonstop.
FedEx, which already operates 44 ATR turboprops, is the launch customer for the new aircraft with 30 firm orders and an option to purchase another 20 units. The ATR 72-600F is expected to be delivered to the US company later this month.
Fedex has invested in expanding its turboprop fleet. In addition to the ATR, the company will soon also have the Cessna SkyCourier, a twin engine turboprop with a capacity of 6,000 lb.
Leader among regional turboprops, the ATR is now also the only cargo aircraft offered as standard in this category.