MIAMI — ATR has announced their first deal of 2018 with leasing company Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) for 20 ATR-42/72-600 aircraft, of which 16 will be ATR42-600s and four ATR72-600s destined to Fort Lauderdale-based Silver Airways.

The South Florida turbo-prop regional carrier will be the first operator of the -600 variant in the United States. Deliveries are to start in March this year.

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The ATR-42-600s will be delivered with a 2-2 seating configuration, able to carry 46 passengers.

“The ATR aircraft is firmly established as a cornerstone of NAC’s portfolio of modern regional aircraft,” said Martin Møller, Chairman of NAC.

“We warmly welcome Silver Airways as a new customer and are grateful for the opportunity to have worked closely with the airline to provide an optimal solution to meet their fleet modernization requirements,” he said.

Christian Scherer, ATR’s CEO admitted that “It is pleasing to celebrate the New Year by announcing a deal that marks ATR’s comeback to the United States and we welcome Silver Airways to our fleet of operators.”

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“We also extend our congratulations to NAC with whom we can celebrate another deal,” he said. This order would be NAC’s 100th order for ATR aircraft.

“We are excited that passengers in the US will now be able to enjoy flying in a modern turboprop and experience the comfort of the ATR cabin,” Scherer said.

The ATR CEO remarked that even though the US market lost more than 400 regional routes in the last ten years, ATR remains confident that with Silver Airways, regional passengers will “appreciate the pleasure of flying onboard the ATR -600 instead of the alternative of a very long drive!”

Currently, Silver Airways operates a fleet of 21 SAAB 240B aircraft. The new ATRs will be used to increase frequencies on some routes within Florida, to the southern US, as well as the Caribbean.

ATR believes that they can now thrive their way back into the US market. They claim that at least 250 turboprop aircraft are nearing the age of 15 years, so replacements for these units will be imminent.

Silver Airways is actively looking for additional pilots to fly the new ATR fleet. According to ATR, pilots will train at the manufacturer’s training facility in Miami, where full-motion Flight Simulators for the -600 series are available.

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These are great news for ATR as they can now compete alongside Bombardier’s Q400, which is also in the same seat range and market.

The ATR-600 series has a 75% market share around other areas of the globe and will be looking to capitalize their lead, especially in the North American market, where they are expecting a 2.2% annual growth in the turboprop market.