Morocco’s state airline Royal Air Maroc has taken delivery of ATR’s new ATR 72-600 aircraft, becoming the first operator to fly the 70-seat regional turboprops.
The first two ATR 72-600s were handed over to a Royal Air Maroc delegation in Toulouse, France, on Friday. The first was handed over on Tuesday, a date coinciding with the first flight test of an ATR aircraft 27 years ago. This first aircraft was on exhibit at the 2011 Paris Air Show.
Royal Air Maroc ordered four ATR 72-600s and two ATR 42-600s, for a total of over US$ 125 million, in 2009 for its subsidiary Royal Air Maroc Express.
The ATR 72-600s are the first to be equipped with the new “Armonia” cabin, specially designed for ATR by the Italian company Giugiaro Design. It includes new seats that are both lighter and more comfortable, providing passengers with more room, as well as more spacious overhead compartments, ATR said.
Morocco’s aircraft are also the first ATR aircraft to be equipped with the new avionics suite developed by Thales. The avionics feature a new glass cockpit with 5 screens and new communication, navigation and monitoring systems. It is also equipped with a new flight management system (FMS), automatic pilot, alert management and a new computer including new aircraft maintenance functions, among other developments.
Driss Benhima, Chief Executive Officer of Royal Air Maroc expressed “satisfaction at becoming the first operator of this regional aircraft that represents a new benchmark in regional aviation. The six ATR ‘-600s’ that we are going to add to our fleet will enable us to develop new routes while offering high-quality service to our passengers.”
Filippo Bagnato, CEO of ATR, emphasized that, “this step is very important for the ATR -600 programme. We are going to ramp up considerably as of next year, and we are going to do so by offering airlines cutting-edge aircraft and by providing them the best economic performance on the market.”
The ATR 72-600 obtained European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification in May this year, a prerequisite for its entry into service. The ATR 42-600 will be certified by the end of the year and will enter into service next year. Since the launch of the ATR “-600” program in October 2007, ATR has already recorded orders for some 180 “-600” series aircraft.
Apart from the new cockpit, cabin and avionics, the ATR 72-600 is fitted with more powerful Pratt & Whitney PW127M turboprops each developing 2 750 horsepower. The aircraft can accommodate between 68 and 74 passengers and has a maximum range of 899 nautical miles (1 665 km).
Royal Air Maroc’s fleet currently comprises 44 medium- and long-haul aircraft, including 34 Boeing 737s, one 747, two 757s, three 767s and four Airbus A321s. It also includes two ATR 42-300s and four ATR 72-200s for its regional network service.
The flag carriers has a global route network that reaches more than 70 destinations throughout Africa, Europe, the Maghreb region, the Middle East, and North America. It serves additional destinations via code-share agreements with 10 airline partners, including US carrier Delta Airlines, the Gulf’s Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways, and Spanish operator Iberia.