DALLAS — Today in Aviation, the prototype of the ATR 72 performed its maiden flight in 1988. On this same day in 1989, Finnair (AY) became the first airline to operate the type.
In its decades of service, the ATR 72 has been used as a commercial and corporate transport aircraft, cargo aircraft, and maritime patrol aircraft.
The ATR 72 is a twin-engine turboprop, short-haul regional aircraft developed and manufactured in France and Italy by ATR (Aerei da Trasporto Regionale or Avions de transport régional), a joint venture created by the French aerospace group Aérospatiale (now Airbus) and Italian aviation conglomerate, Aeritalia (now Leonardo S.p. A.).
Almost 11 months after its prototype took to the skies, on September 25, 1989, the ATR 72 received airworthiness certification from the French Directorate-General for Civil Aviation. The number ’72’ in its name comes from the standard configuration of the aircraft, which could accommodate 72–78 passengers in a single-class arrangement.
An ATR 72 of Finnair, its launch operator. Photo: Pertti Sipilä, GFDL 1.2.
ATR 72 Development
In the 1980s, the aforementioned French and Italian companies combined their work on a new generation of regional aircraft. Thus, a new joint-owned company, ATR, was formed for the purpose of establishing, manufacturing and selling its first airliner, the ATR 42.
On August 16, 1984, the first model of the series, the ATR 42-300, performed its maiden flight. On January 15, 1986, ATR announced the launch of the stretched ATR 72 program.
The ATR 72 was a direct descendant of the ATR 42 and shared several commonalities with the latter; the one difference between the two aircraft was an improvement in the overall seating capacity, from 48 to 78 passengers.
ATR accomplished the increase in capacity by expanding the fuselage by 4.5 m (15 ft) along with an increase in wingspan,…
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