Avions de Transport Régional (Toulouse Blagnac) has received the go-ahead from its board of directors for the industrial launch of the ATR42-600S, the ‘S’ standing for Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL), the manufacturer confirmed at a news conference during the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) general assembly in Juan-Les-Pins, France, on October 9.

The new version of the ATR42-600 will be able to tackle runways with a miniminum length of 800 metres with 40 passengers on board, as long as there are standard flight conditions, which ATR defines as 15°C airfield temperature and a dry paved runway.

ATR CEO Stefano Bortoli said that the manufacturer had recorded 20 commitments from operators and lessors for this variant, including Elix Aviation Capital as the launch lessor and Air Tahiti as the launch operator. Elix and Air Tahiti have committed to ten and two of the aircraft, respectively, with eight additional orders from other lessors.

ATR42-600S certification is expected for the second half of 2022, with the first delivery anticipated immediately afterwards.

The modifications include a larger rudder giving pilots more control over the aircraft at lower speeds, the ability to deploy spoilers symmetrically during landing, and a new automatic braking system for full braking power as soon as the aircraft touches down.

“The ATR42-600S will help airlines widen their market, as it can reach up to around 500 new airports across the globe,” Bortoli said. “Airports with runways of between 800 and 1,000 metres are perfect for it.”

He pledged that the new variant would benefit both airlines and passengers because of the increased regional connectivity it will bring for greater numbers of remote communities. It will be able “to go where other aircraft cannot go”, he said.