Alliance Air, which is branded as Air India Regional, received its 5th brand new ATR 72-600 from Toulouse. The aircraft, registered VT-AIW, joins the fleet of four other ATR 72-600s, registered VT-AII, VT-AIT, VT-AIU and VT-AIV. Al five aircraft are leased from Singapore based leasing company Avation.
The ATR 72-600s, which employ an all new cockpit avionics based on technology used on the Airbus A380, is to replace the aging fleet of four ATR 42-320s. The ATR 42-320s in Alliance air are fitted with 48 seats, while the ATR 72-600s are fitted with 70 seats. The older ATRs sport a four bladed propeller, which made the aircraft noisier than the present six-bladed propellers. Passive noise reduction techniques make the present -600’s cabin a lot more pleasant than the older ATRs’.
With the arrival of VT-AIW, which was ferried Toulouse (TLS) – Heraklion (HER) – Ankara (ESB) – Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Delhi (DEL), the total count of active ATR 72s in India (-500 & -600) has gone upto 27, split as 15 ATR 72-500 (Jet AIrways) + 3 ATR 72-600 (Jet AIrways) + 5 ATR 72-600 (Air India Regional / Alliance Air) + 2 ATR 72-500 (Air Pegasus) + 2 ATR 72-500 (TruJet). One ATR 72-500 is undergoing painting at Hosur, destined for Air Pegaus.
India totally has 51 70-80 seat turboprops in service, including 14 Bombardier Q400s of SpiceJet. The smaller ATR 42s, aged on average 21+ years, will soon be phased out.
Air India Regional / Alliance Air flies the longest turboprop route in the country, between Delhi and Rajkot, over 505 nautical miles, a flight that takes 2:30 hours block time, almost the same block time an Airbus or Boeing mainline narrowbody jet (A320 & 737 family) takes to fly double the distance. Due to insufficient crew, and to align with the schedules of the network of its parent Air India, the ATRs at Alliance Air are not utilised as much as the aircraft can be. Average present utilisation of the aircraft at the airline is close to 6 hours per aircraft per day. The aircraft operate only four flights a day, while Jet Airways operates upto 13 hours per aircraft per day and 9 flights per aircraft per day. (maximum figures).
Of the presently four operational ATR 72-600s with Alliance Air, three are based at Delhi, and operate flights to Kullu, Dharamshala, Allahabad, Dehradun, Rajkot and Pantnagar. One is based at Hyderabad, and operates flights to Vijayawada and Tirupati, offering competition to TruJet and Air Costa.
An ATR 72 is best suited for short (distance) and thin (low demand) routes of upto 350 nautical miles. Beyond this, a regional jet generally becomes a more viable and economical option. The shortest ATR 72 sector in India is operated by Jet Airways between Porbandar and Diu, a flight that lasts just 45 minutes block time over a distance of 90 nautical miles (166km). The average ATR 72 city pair distance in India is 223 nautical miles (413 km), while the average domestic flight distance across all domestic flights of all carriers on all aircraft in India is 455NM (843 km).
70-80 seat turboprops serve as good feeder aircraft to mainline aircraft, enabling deeper and true regional penetration in India, especially since many airfields and city pairs in India, today, are operationally and commercially unviable for regional and mainline jets. Many runways are too short for regional and mainline jets, and many cities are too underdeveloped to viably support larger aircraft.
The maps below show the pan-India coverage that turboprops can achieve by being based out of five metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, and by flying a maximum distance of 400NM. Range circles are 300NM and 400NM radius, as mentioned.
Over the next 20 years, a demand for 2,500 turboprops is anticipated, of which close to 50% may be based at Asia.
Header image does not represent VT-AIW, but VT-AII.
Since 2011, Air Pegasus has been in the news. The coverage has damaged the airline’s reputation- the managing director talked of starting operations twice, and both timelines were missed with not a single aircraft in India that was to operate under the Pegasus brand.
The airline was granted its NOC late 2011, and since then renewed twice. Most, including the DGCA, haven’t taken Air Pegasus seriously. They’d written it off as another airline that will not take to the skies.
But all that has changed. The MD and CEO of the airline, Mr. Shyson Thomas, firmly believes its his last renewal of the NOC, for he is confident of getting his AOP in September. This time around though, it’s for real.
The airline will today (Monday, 4th August) sign on the dotted line a letter of intent with a lessor, who will supply the Bangalore based Air Pegasus Private Limited two eight-and-a-half year old ATR 72-500 aircraft. The airline has two expat pilots on its rolls, one of whom landed in Bangalore in the wee hours of Saturday morning from Athens, Greece, to attend an Aviation Security (AV-SEC) training. There are six Indian captains, and eleven first officers ready to fly the first two aircraft, and twenty all-female cabin crew ready to man it.
For the first time in the history of the yet-to-become airline, lessors have reportedly been sending the airline emails, rather than the other way around. There seems to be confidence from overseas, from the likes of people who have burnt their fingers leasing aircraft to Paramount and Kingfisher. It is too early to see pictures of an ATR in the airline’s paint scheme, but once the signatures are done, two ex-Kingfisher/Deccan aircraft will be ready to start another chapter in the history of Indian aviation: an all ATR, pure-regional airline based out of Bangalore, to cater specifically to the south- a region attractive for it includes three Tier I cities and many promising, and economically important Tier II cities.
ATR has proved in recent years to be successful in South East Asia, a market which experiences strong development of its regional networks. Since 2005, ATR has sold over 170 new firm aircraft to South East Asian carriers, accounting for 98% of all regional aircraft with up to 90 seats sold in the region during this period.
Garuda Indonesia, the flag carrier of Indonesia, is expanding its fleet with a firm commitment to lease 25 ATR 72-600s, with options for 10 more, from Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC), based in Billund, Denmark. NAC, in June 2013, placed an order for 90 ATR aircraft, including ATR 42-600s. With this, the leasing company’s ATR fleet grows to 150 aircraft. Garuda Indonesia joins Indonesian Lion Air’s subsidiary, Wings Air, as an ATR operator. Wings Air is ATR’s largest customer for the ATR 72s. Together with Garuda/s ATR 72s, Indonesia alone will may have more than 100 ATR 72 aircraft in the next two years. Some of these ATRs make their way to Lion Group’s Malindo.
Malaysia Airlines and ATR inked a deal in late 2012 for the purchase of a total of 36 ATR 72-600s (20 firm orders plus 16 options) to be operated by the airline’s regional subsidiaries, MASwings and Firefly. The two subsidiaries have started receiving their ATR 72-600 aircraft.
Myannmar’s Air KBZ, which already operated ATR 72-500s, received two ATR 72-600s this year.
ATR opened its Flight Training Centre at Singapore on the 14th of December 2013. With more than 250 ATR aircraft flying in the Asia-Pacific region, with 50 operators, it was only prudent to bring a training centre closer to a region of high significance.
Just months after the training centre was opened, the simulator is running at full capacity. With the encouraging response, ATR has chosen to open another training center, this time in partnership with an ATR operator, Avianca, in Bogota.
ATR penetrated Japan with Link, an operator that plans to start operations by the end of 2013. Link will acquire three ATR 72-600s, becoming the first carrier in Japan to operate ATR aircraft.
The 50th edition of the Paris Air Show was the best in the history of the Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR. Over the course of the week, the turboprop aircraft manufacturer announced orders for 173 planes, including 83 firm orders at the air show. The order book also ensures ATR’s production until the end of 2016.
Maintenance Expansion: India.
As part of the steadily planned expansion of the ATR MRO Network, ATR, on 11th October, called for tenders to initiate the selection process of an ATR MRO Network member in India to cover the geographical region.
Shifting Markets & Support.
During the show, ATR announced orders from markets which have proved among the most promising in recent years: the aircraft leasing companies and Latin America. This has prompted ATR to shift its office in North America. “Across Latin and South America, we are seeing a big rise in the sheer number of ATRs in service, as we win over new operators and current clients increase the number of turboprops in their fleets. So it makes sense for us to relocate our North America office to Miami to be close to all our customers across the whole of the Americas”, says Filippo Bagnato, Chief Executive Officer, ATR.
Jet Airways presently has a fleet of 18 ATR 72 aircraft, of which VT-JCX is an ATR 72-600, the rest being the -500 version of the popular ATR 72 aircraft. Very minor changes are present between the two airplane types (even the engine remains unchanged), and the largest difference lies in cockpit, which is all glass on the ATR 72-600, as opposed to a mix of mechanical and electronic displays on the -500.
On the 5th of December, 2012, Jet Airways issued a press release announcing the planned induction of five new ATR 72-600 aircraft into their fleet. The aircraft, some leased and some yet to be, from GECAS, are VT-JCX, VT-JCY, VT-JCZ, VT-JDA, and VT-JDB.
VT-JCX (MSN 1056) first flew on the 21st of November, 2012, and delivered on the 3rd of December, 2012, just 2 days before the issue of the press release. JCX flies in JetKonnect colors.
VT-JCY (MSN 1064) first flew on the 8th of December, 2012, and was “delivered” on the 31st of December 2012. The aircraft is painted in JetKonnect colors, but is stored at Toulouse Blagnac.
VT-JCZ (MSN 1075) first flew on the 27th of February, 2013, is painted in JetKonnect colors, but is yet to be delivered.
MSN 1077 was slated to be registered VT-JDA, but instead, is registered as V2-LIA, for LIAT, a Caribbean Airline.
The fate of MSN 1091, planned to be registered VT-JDB, is unknown.
So what went wrong? Kingfisher.
Two new ATR 72-500 joined the Jet Airways fleet: VT-JDC and VT-JDD. VT-JDC was registered on the 12th of February, 2013, and VT-JDD was registered on the 5th of March, 2013. JDC was formerly VT-KAO, and JDD was VT-KAK, both manufactured in 2007, and then delivered to Kingfisher Airlines.
Following Kingfisher’s collapse, the very attractive lease rates of the ATR 72-500, and the “no observable operational benefits" of the ATR 72-600 over the -500 have disrupted the -600’s plans in India.
As of today, the newest ATR 72 produced is MSN 1084, flying for Mount Cook Airlines, New Zealand. But the presence of a good number of Kingfisher ATR 72-500 in the country doesn’t bode too well for the sales of ATR 72-600 airplanes in South Asia; equally well performing ATR 72-500s are available cheap.
With respect to type rating designation for the ATR 42/72 series, DGCA finally recognizes the same type rating (single license endorsement) for the existing ATR 42/72 variants and ATR-600 variants as “ATR42/72". This means that the flight crew on Jet Airways’ ATR 72-500 can now fly either the -600 variant or the -500 variant on a single day, but not both the types on the same day.
This allows Jet Airways to better utilise its turboprop flight crew, which until recently was affected by DGCA’s then non recognition of the common type rating for the two types.
With only 2 ATR 72-600 in its fleet, and more expected to be inducted, this recognition is welcomed as Jet Airways slowly phases out the -500 in favour of the -600. Further, Jet Airways will realise training cost savings from the newly opened ATR Training Centre at Singapore, which houses one ATR 72-600 FFS (Full Flight Simulator).
The common rating is allowed with a differences training. EASA recommends a differences training of 5 days, which includes and covers 28 hours of classroom instruction, web based training, and practice on the Virtual Hardware Platform Trainer (VHPT), and 4 hours per crew on a Full Flight Training device (FFT), such as a FFS.
The differences training between the two aircraft focus on:
Engine malfunctions during take-off;
Use of avionics in normal and abnormal / emergency operations, including FMA annunciations, caution and warning messages on the Engine & Warning Display (EWD), and associated human factors issues;
Use of Flight Management System (FMS);
Use of Electronic Checklist (ECL);
Ice detection and management systems and displays (including APM); and
Crew Resource Management (CRM) with regard to the new functionalities.
Jet Airways (I) Pvt Ltd has reportedly leased two Kingfisher ATR 72-500s, bearing DGCA registrations VT-KAK (MSN 758) and VT-KAO (MSN 772), both manufactured in the year 2007. These two aircraft are leased from INV Jet Leasing Ltd.
Jet Airways has managed to lease these planes at a very attractive rate, thanks to the inability of the lessors repossess and fly out Kingfisher aircraft.
The aircraft are being painted in the Jet Airways’ livery; re-registration of the aircraft is uncertain. (Update: Aircraft re-registered as VT-JDD and VT-JDC, respectively)
Of the 15 Kingfisher ATR 72-500s registered with the DGCA, only three seem to be leased from traceable and established lessors.
I was rummaging through my “precious" stuff, when I found two “in-flight forms" that I had prepared for the flight crew operating my flights. I knew the crew well, so it wasn’t an issue back then. Today, the story is different: requesting for technical information in-flight may not be taken in the right light, and those responsible for airport security may be waiting for you at your destination!
But if done carefully, you may be in for a technical treat! Below is the scan from an ATR 72-500 flight from Bangalore (VOBL) to Hyderabad (VOHS), via airway W57N, which was flown sometime in 2011. I got the F/O to fill the form for me, which he did with a nice smile!
[Background Information:W57N is a unidirectional airway that originates at BIA (VOR, Bangalore International), and terminates at HIA (VOR, Hyderabad International), as follows: