Yesterday, in Part I of this three-part analysis of the worldwide turboprop freighter fleet, we offered an overview of the fleet, as well as a showing the entire fleet broken down by carrier. You can read Part I here, and today, we look at the fleet in more detail by type. Next week we will conclude the analysis with Part III – a look at the small jet freighters that might be thought of as competitors to the large turboprop freighters.
As mentioned in Part I, our focus is on the seven types that are popular today, or which we believe will become more popular in the future. There are hundreds of much smaller aircraft (Beechcraft and Cessnas, particularly) in cargo operation around the world, but they, like older types such as Convairs and Shorts, are beyond the scope of this analysis.
ATR 42F: A total of fifty-one ATR 42s have been converted to freighter configuration, all but one of which are in bulk-load configuration. Of the fifty-one, four have been written off, two have been scrapped, and three are in storage (one of which is scheduled to be scrapped). Forty-two are in service (although one of these is operated by the US Department of Justice, and is not shown). This total is down one unit from last year as DOT Lithuania parked one of its ATR 42Fs. Recently launched Bulgarian startup Bright Flight also acquired Aviavilsa’s (Lithuania) single large-door ATR 42F.
ATR 72F: Sixty-three ATR 72s have been converted to freighter configuration, and all but two of them are in service. Last year IPR Conversions acquired Alenia Aermacchi’s ATR passenger-to-freighter conversion STCs which should ensure a supply of ATR 72Fs into the foreseeable future in both bulk-load and large-door configuration. This year, Empire Air increased the total number of ATR 72Fs in operation for FedEx from 6 to 7 units. Empire will soon begin operating two additional ATR72Fs in large-door configuration for Hawaiian Airlines. A third unit, now in combi configuration, is slated for future conversion to full freighter. This year also saw newcomer to ATR freighters, Switzerland-based Zimex, add two ATR 72Fs (one ex-Solenta). Sprint Air also added a recently converted ATR 72F to its fleet. ASL Airlines Ireland has one additional ATR 72F slated for conversion, not shown in the chart.
ATPF: The ATP Freighter fleet decreased by two units from last year. A total of sixty-five ATP aircraft were built, of which forty-five have been converted to freighter configuration – twenty-four with large cargo doors, and twenty-one as bulk loaders. Of these, thirty-three are in service with three carriers. Indonesia-based Deraya Air Taxi operates two, while the rest are with Sweden-based West Atlantic, through its subsidiary carriers West Air Sweden and UK-based Atlantic Airlines. Of the remaining twelve, two have been scrapped, two are earmarked for scrapping, and eight (all previously operated by West Atlantic or its predecessors) are in long-term storage, with two additional units parked this year.
Saab 340AF: Forty-one Saab 340As have now been converted to freighter configuration. Of these, thirty-five are in active service, along with two 340AQCs operated full-time as freighters by Loganair. This figure remains unchanged from last year even though a few planes changed hands. Slovenia-based Solinair transferred ownership of its single 340ACF to its sister carrier, Lipican Aer. Estonia-based Airest also acquired two additional units when ABC Air Hungary also ceased operations.
Fokker50F: Sixteen Fokker 50s have been converted to freighter configuration, up from fifteen at this time last year, as Amapola Flyg added a newly converted unit, bringing its total in operation to twelve. One additional unit is operated by Indonesia’s Asialink Cargo Express, while the remaining three units remain parked.
Bombardier Q400PF: In 2009, Sweden-based Nord-Flyg ordered two Bombardier Q400s converted to bulk-load freighter configuration, but the carrier ceased operation in early 2010 after taking only the first unit. The freighter then went to West Atlantic, but in early 2012 was acquired by Kenyan carrier Blue Bird Aviation, which operated a twelve-unit turboprop passenger fleet, including four Dash 8 Q400s. Blue Bird added a second Q400F in 2012, a third in 2014, and two in 2015. Although no further Q400 freighter orders have been announced, the market outlook for this type is positive. Also of interest are Bombardier’s Q400 Combis. The program was announced in 2014, with Japan Airlines’ regional subsidiary Ryukyu Air Commuter stepping forward as the launch customer with an initial order of five units in 2015. To date Ryukyu has taken delivery of two of the aircraft, which offer up to 32.5 cubic meters of volume and a payload of up to 4 tonnes. While no additional orders for the aircraft have been announced, we expect the Q400 Combis to continue filling unique niche markets requiring short distance intra-regional transportation.
Bombardier Q300PF: On the subject of Bombardier’s Dash 8 series, we note that Canadian carrier Air Inuit developed a small-door conversion program for the Q300, and had it certified by the Canadian aviation authorities. Since then the carrier has converted three of the type (up one unit from 2015). In March of this year Air Inuit became the launch customer for Bombardier’s Q300 large-door conversion program, and we expect the first Q300 full freighters to join the fleet some time in 2017. Air Inuit has a significant cargo focus, operating two 737-200 combis and an HS 748 in freighter configuration, in addition to the three Q300Fs. Air Inuit says its Q300 freighters have a payload of just over 6 tonnes, which makes it a competitor to the ATR 42 and Fokker 50, but so far the type has not been of interest to other carriers.
In addition to this turboprop freighter fleet analysis, we also publish three other freighter fleet analyses annually:
A three-part analysis of the narrowbody freighter fleet begins here.
A five-part analysis of the widebody freighter fleet begins here.
A two-part analysis of the fleet of freighters operated by and for the express companies begins here.
If you are interested in a more in-depth look at the worldwide freighter fleet, both as it is today and how it will change over the next twenty years, then consider the annual Twenty-year Freighter Forecast published by Cargo Facts’ parent company, Air Cargo Management Group.