Operational self-sufficiency key to ATR Evo hybrid strategy

ATR expects to pick new hybrid propulsion and technology stack for turboprop by the end of 2024 for operations optimized around rugged environments and less-developed airport infrastructure.

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Release Date
April 4, 2024
Operational self-sufficiency key to ATR Evo hybrid strategy

ATR’s survival and success as the sole remaining large commercial turboprop provider has been rooted in the comparatively lower cost to acquire and operate its aircraft. Its erstwhile competitor, the Bombardier Q400 (now the DHC-8-400 under De Havilland Canada) offered the near-jet speed and performance that was needed by some customers, but that came with a higher price tag than the planes from Toulouse. Cheap and cheerful as the industry mantra went for the ATR turboprops.

The joint venture between Airbus and Leonardo in May 2022 unveiled plans for an amorphously defined “Evo”, a hybrid-electric version of its 50 and 70-seat turboprops — some eight years before it aimed at the Evo’s arrival to market. ATR’s move threw a boulder in front of Embraer’s own plans for a next-generation turboprop, while previewing a 20% improvement in fuel consumption for a significantly updated derivative of its turboprop family. With Embraer’s new aircraft effectively dead, ATR must still straddle the necessity of fielding advanced battery-infused propulsion for a major improvement in emissions and fuel consumption while preserving a spartan, yet versatile, aircraft design that is suited to the rugged nature of its operating environments.

“We also need to keep the platform competitive and affordable to communities and operationally reliable to fly to communities and islands and mountains and areas where we might not have access to an ecosystem of energy that you want to have,” said Alexis Vidal, ATR’s senior vice president commercial, during an interview with The Air Current at the Singapore Air Show.

Related: De Havilland and the Canadian pursuit of a hybrid-electric turboprop

“To be reliable, the most critical [thing] right now is to run the feasibility [studies]. And we’ll decide by the end of the year or at least assess the maturity of the technology we want to apply. So maybe 2030 as a target, we will see in the course of the year how far we can stick to that.” Vidal says ATR ultimately aims to “be in a position to launch” the Evo development program in 2025.

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