FedEx is the Launch Customer for ATR’s new production freighter

is the launch customer for ’s 72-600F production freighter.

signed an agreement with for the purchase of thirty 72-600Fs, with options for twenty more.

This will be ’s first production freighter. Until now, any carrier or lessor that wanted a turboprop freighter had to first acquire a used passenger unit, and then have it converted to freighter configuration. Most such conversions were to bulk-load configuration – that is, modification of the interior of the aircraft to carry cargo, but no installation of a large cargo door.

You can read our three-part analysis of the worldwide turboprop freighter fleet here, but the short version is that there are currently about 200 in service, most operated for the big express companies, and most in bulk-load configuration. The most popular types are the 42 and 72, the ATP, and the Saab 340, but, in recent years, the only type added to the fleet in any significant numbers has been the 72. Its popularity is partly a result of the ready availability of feedstock, and partly of the launch of a new conversion program by Switzerland-based .

The full impact on the conversion business of ’s launch of a 72-600F production freighter remains to be seen, but, given that most are operated for the integrators, it does mean that is out of the conversion game for the foreseeable future. Howver, it does not mean that IPR will suffer, because, as part of the new program,  signed a technology-licensing agreement, granting the license to install IPR  Large Cargo Door (LCD) and Structural Tube modifications on the new 72-600F freighters.

And what about the 72-600F itself? According to , the new freighter will have a windowless fuselage (i.e. no plugs), a forward large cargo door, and a rear upper-hinged cargo door. Changes on the inside include a class E main cabin with reinforced floor panels. The freighter will carry both bulk cargo and palletized/containerized cargo. says the main-deck volume will be 74.6 cubic meters, with the ability to accommodate up to seven LD3 containers, or five 88” x 108”, or nine 88” x 62” pallets. did not offer data on the new freighter’s range or maximum payload, but the passenger 72-600 has a range with max payload of 1,528 km (825 nm), and the currently-available converted 72Fs offer a payload of about 8.5 tonnes.

does not currently operate itself, but it has twenty-one 72Fs and twenty-six of the smaller 42Fs in its fleet, and leases them to other carriers who operate them in feeder service for .

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