ATR on Wednesday conducted the first flight of the partially configured short takeoff and landing (STOL) variant of its ATR 42-600 turboprop, the company said in a statement. The flight took off at 10 am from Francazal Airport in Cugnaux, France, and lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes.
The crew onboard performed what the company called a number of tests to measure the upgraded aircraft systems' performance.
After completing the first flight, engineers will test new functionalities one at a time, starting with the MFC-NG (Multifunctional Computer New Generation), followed by the autobrake, ground spoiler, and increased takeoff rating systems, said ATR.
The company added that the aircraft will enter its final configuration at the end of the year with the addition of a new larger rudder and move on to its certification phase in 2023.
Launched during the 2019 Paris Air Show as the ATR 42-600S, the variant will offer takeoff and landing capabilities on runways as short as 800 meters (2,624 feet)—compared with 1,050 meters (3,445 feet) for a conventional version—with 40 passengers on board in standard flight conditions. Close to 500 airports have runways that extend between 800- and 1,000 meters and could welcome the ATR 42-600S; nearly a third of those runways reside in the Asia-Pacific region. With the Covid crisis disrupting the initial program schedule by a few months, ATR expects deliveries to start in early 2025. The manufacturer has won commitments for 20 ATR 42-600Ss, including ten from Dublin-based turboprop lessor Elix Aviation Capital.