Turboprop freighters receive little attention, but a steady drip of sales and conversions means that the market remains relevant as it prepares to expand to meet higher package delivery demand resulting from the spread of e-commerce.
ATR forecasts that that current global fleet of 340 turboprop freighters will grow to 460 over the next 20 years, generating demand for 420 aircraft, all of which are likely to come from passenger-to-freighter conversions.
Spanish MRO Binter Technic is one supplier of such conversions under its AKKA Console supplemental type certificate for the ATR72-200.
In the past year Slovakian remarketer Aelis has engaged Binter Technic to convert two ATR72-200s for Polish operator Sprint Air, with the second aircraft delivered this month. In June Aelis also arranged the purchase, conversion and delivery of another ATR72-200 to RAF Avia.
All three aircraft were sourced from Canary Fly.
While passenger carriers tend to use the ATR72-500 and -600 models, freighters are conversions of the older ATR72-200 variant. ATR estimates the average age of the total turboprop freighter fleet, including those from other manufacturers, to be 27 years.
The -200 freighter constitutes about 10% of the global ATR72 fleet, and in June ATR created a new department partly tasked with facilitating transactions within the cargo niche
The aim of the Leasing, Asset Management & Freighter unit is to manage sales to the leasing community and facilitate the placement of new or used ATR aircraft by lessors.
It also provides a full range of asset management services, including support for freighter conversions, and will deliver associated services solutions to third-party leasing companies, brokers, integrators, financiers and investors.
To find out more about the ATR72 in all its guises see the forthcoming issue of Inside MRO.