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JuliusWong

ATR in talks with Firefly, Batik Air for turboprop aircraft replacement

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Kang Siew Li/bThe Edge Malaysia. October 26, 2022 14:00 pm +08

https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/atr-talks-firefly-batik-air-turboprop-aircraft-replacement

EUROPEAN turboprop manufacturer ATR is discussing with Malaysia Aviation Group Bhd’s (MAG) wholly-owned subsidiaries — Flyfirefly Sdn Bhd and MASwings Sdn Bhd — and Batik Air, formerly Malindo Air, about replacing some of their ageing turboprops with next-generation aircraft.

“We are talking to all our [turboprop] operators in Malaysia. The biggest operator of the ATR here is MAG, but the turboprop planes in its fleet are the older generation ATR 72-500s, which are 12 to 14 years old. Clearly, there is an opportunity there for upgrades,” ATR sales director Mavis Toh tells The Edge in an interview. ATR is a joint venture owned equally by Italy’s Leonardo and Airbus, the European aerospace conglomerate.

To date, ATR has delivered about 30 aircraft to airlines in Malaysia, namely Firefly, MASwings, Batik Air and Berjaya Air Sdn Bhd. Firefly operates nine ATR 72-500s, while MASwings has 10. Batik Air has 13 ATR 72-600s.

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The ATR72 has been actively too big of a size for MASWings except for Mulu and Lahad datu where passenger bags were sometimes offloaded to meet the take off length requirement while other sectors were flying very empty except holiday seasons. It may be better for MAG to consider maybe complimenting a sub fleet of ATR42-600 and downsizing the atr72 fleet total would be better for Maswings.



From the article
"This new STOL version of the ATR 42-600 is currently under development and is due to enter into service in early 2025. “This 40- to 50-seat aircraft can access runways as short as 800m, making it ideal for rural air service routes in Sabah and Sarawak that are currently being served by the smaller aircraft,” says Toh."

Most of the aircraft salesman dont know the specific like runway take off length requirement can be easily limited when its hot and humid. Hot day in the tropics with near max take off weight the standard atr42-600 needs 1200-1300meter of length to takeoff. This is certainly not STOL like capable compared to the dash 7. Even with the STOL mod being finalize i sincerely doubt it could meet the 800meter technicality. Another issue 8 STOLports in Sarawak are at 500-600meters in runway length with only 2 being planned to upgrade to turboprop based airports without the limiting STOL lengths. Also with it being only available by early 2025 it is already too late as most of the atr72-500s in Malaysia are actually operating at zombie like state now with the amount of breakdowns being logged a definitely exit or replacement a must by early 2024. Some of Malindo atr72-600 which are actually still new are also begining to rank in quite a number of faulty parts.

 

The real gamechanger would be the ATR Evo but that wont come until 2030.

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On 11/1/2022 at 6:01 PM, jahur said:

The ATR72 has been actively too big of a size for MASWings except for Mulu and Lahad datu where passenger bags were sometimes offloaded to meet the take off length requirement while other sectors were flying very empty except holiday seasons. It may be better for MAG to consider maybe complimenting a sub fleet of ATR42-600 and downsizing the atr72 fleet total would be better for Maswings.



From the article
"This new STOL version of the ATR 42-600 is currently under development and is due to enter into service in early 2025. “This 40- to 50-seat aircraft can access runways as short as 800m, making it ideal for rural air service routes in Sabah and Sarawak that are currently being served by the smaller aircraft,” says Toh."

Most of the aircraft salesman dont know the specific like runway take off length requirement can be easily limited when its hot and humid. Hot day in the tropics with near max take off weight the standard atr42-600 needs 1200-1300meter of length to takeoff. This is certainly not STOL like capable compared to the dash 7. Even with the STOL mod being finalize i sincerely doubt it could meet the 800meter technicality. Another issue 8 STOLports in Sarawak are at 500-600meters in runway length with only 2 being planned to upgrade to turboprop based airports without the limiting STOL lengths. Also with it being only available by early 2025 it is already too late as most of the atr72-500s in Malaysia are actually operating at zombie like state now with the amount of breakdowns being logged a definitely exit or replacement a must by early 2024. Some of Malindo atr72-600 which are actually still new are also begining to rank in quite a number of faulty parts.

 

The real gamechanger would be the ATR Evo but that wont come until 2030.

Is this normal or sign of poor maintenance?

 

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44 minutes ago, Robert said:

Is this normal or sign of poor maintenance?

Actually it is normal, if you see those bigger ATR72 operators in the region and Europe, you will see a pattern. Most of them starting flipping over their current fleet once the airframe approaches 7th/8th year mark. Those days when Douglas and Fokker built their tough airplanes are long gone. Some 35 years old F-50s are still flying today! 

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1 hour ago, JuliusWong said:

Actually it is normal, if you see those bigger ATR72 operators in the region and Europe, you will see a pattern. Most of them starting flipping over their current fleet once the airframe approaches 7th/8th year mark. Those days when Douglas and Fokker built their tough airplanes are long gone. Some 35 years old F-50s are still flying today! 

Some have pretty good usage by hoarding parts (something MAG lack the foresight to). Some stuffs meant to last 9months were replaced brand new in 2 weeks of use which does not actually sound good but that is how some of these operators operate a good active atr fleet.

All of this is somewhat an inherit European problem. At the military side u have saab gripen, typhoon jets, dassault rafales needing replacement within 20years while the old late 1980s fa-18 hornet or f-15s are still flying around with good glass upgrades. Airbus and westland joint venture NH90 helicopters were prematurely disposed by airforces in norway, sweden, australia and soon new zealand due unreliability. Some of these helis are only 6years old. Malaysia's french Eurocopter EC-725 military helis flying on very limited operations due to gearbox design flaw that it had to cancel the remaining 12 units due for delivery. But blackhawks and sikorsky s-92 that the military wanted were more reliable but never considered due to barter deals with some undertable commission offered by the french. The only reliably made helicopters so far were the Agusta Westland aw series. Airbus a400m atlas probably needing retirement within the 20 year mark while very old 1970s hercules c130 can be upgraded and still be flying without issues.

Malaysia's first batch 9M-MK series airbus a330 in late 1990s were very buggy on the software side. Most of it were sorted out by the improved 2015circa a330ceo but some flaws still remain that have yet to be rectified in the a330neo for cost saving measures. 

Edited by jahur

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2 hours ago, jahur said:

... Most of it were sorted out by the improved 2015circa a330ceo but some flaws still remain that have yet to be rectified in the a330neo for cost saving measures. 

You mean the A330neo's will be delivered new with known software flaws inherited from the A330ceo ? 😯

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26 minutes ago, BC Tam said:

You mean the A330neo's will be delivered new with known software flaws inherited from the A330ceo ? 😯

Some of the features implemented on the a380 and tested over the years were optimized and incorporated into the a350. Most of these were considered for the a330neo and a320neo but in the end a large bulk of it were not added in the end. The a330 since the 90s has undergo many software bug fixes and fuel burn improvements but a lot of new stuffs with advancement of aviation were never implemented probably to avoid disrupting the a350 sales. The mcdu on the a330neo and a320neo is still a far cry over the a350 and a220 and even 737ng lol.

The a220 is actually on the same level with the a350 but airbus does not seem to try hard to bundle freebies to potential buyers in Asean when compared to the a320.

It actually doesnt hurt airbus to at least port over 70% of the new inflight computer management system and updated screens over to the 320 330 neo series along with higher composite material % on the fuselage. But like the 737max, accountants from the airlines were affecting much of the initial design process just to save up costs.

 

The atr72 was a byproduct of this as well an accountants fokker 50 that couldn't at least fly and climb appropriately with single engine out of the terrain when s#1t happens while the q400 and even tiny twin otter will outclimb it with ease under the same circumstances lol. Burning 600kg of fuel per hour is the only priority on the accountants mind. 

Edited by jahur

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Well, the ATR-72 has weak engines - that is why its take off and climb performance  is so poor. It can't fly that fast either. Its success is due more to its economic efficiency and airlines like that. Firefly got rid of the ATR72-600 but retained the older planes. If they order new ATRs, it would be the latest version of the -600, wouldn't it? What advantages would it have over the current model that FY operates?

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21 hours ago, flee said:

Well, the ATR-72 has weak engines - that is why its take off and climb performance  is so poor. It can't fly that fast either. Its success is due more to its economic efficiency and airlines like that. Firefly got rid of the ATR72-600 but retained the older planes. If they order new ATRs, it would be the latest version of the -600, wouldn't it? What advantages would it have over the current model that FY operates?

Procurement of parts apparently. The 500 series parts have been hoarded in great numbers by other countries and it is getting gradually difficult to source them. Previously it was the opposite with the 600 series parts being hard to sought. As i say MAS was always short sighted when it comes to long term costs coupled with MOT and state meddling the RAS ATR-72 subsidies contracts refusal to swap aircraft to 600s saying the 500 series were still brand new. MOT was probably benchmarking the atr72-500 to persist down to 15 years of use like the Fokkers.

Another is the reduced breakdowns with newer aircraft though again ATR sickness usually comes at year 7 of operation and one will wonder if MAG plans for a replacement by then its not like the Fokker 50 days where you start to plan your succession at year 12. Q400s tend to fair longer as well but they are considered fuel guzzlers for the Malaysian market.

Edited by jahur

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