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A small but powerful aircraft model, the ATR72 is a twin-engine turboprop regional airliner, popular for operating short haul routes around the world. The ATR was developed and produced in France and Italy by aircraft manufacturer ATR. ATR is a joint venture formed by French aerospace company Aérospatiale (now Airbus) and Italian aviation conglomerate Aeritalia (now Leonardo S.p.A.).
To date, all of the ATR series have been completed at the company's final assembly line in Toulouse, France; ATR benefits from sharing resources and technology with Airbus SE, which has continued to hold a 50% interest in the company. The number "72" in its name is derived from the aircraft's standard seating configuration in a passenger-carrying configuration, which could seat 72–78 passengers in a single-class arrangement.
Finnair was the first company to use this aircraft type on commercial flights, launching the model in 1989. The original ATR version the ATR-42 made its maiden flight in 1984. The ATR72 is very popular with numerous airlines around the world, with 960 aircraft built by 2017. As the plane is able to take off and land on shorter runways, it can reach more destinations than jet-powered aircraft.
Various models of the ATR72 have been developed. Typical improvements have included new avionics, such as a glass cockpit, and the adoption of newer engine versions to deliver better performance, with increased efficiency and reliability and reductions in operating costs. The ATR72’s average engine power rating has increased by more than a third, yet the aircraft maintains the lowest fuel consumption in its category. In addition, the exterior noise levels have been reduced by 10%, still matching the most strict international ICAO rules. The latest manufacturing techniques, an extensive use of composite materials, an innovative use of carbon fiber on the primary structure and high-tech engines and propellers make ATR the preferred choice of regional airlines.
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