TOULOUSE, FRANCE — ATR's new 30 to 50 seater turboprop, which will be capable of taking off and landing on shorter runways, enters ground and flight testing phase. Today, the Franco-Italian turboprop manufacturer ATR announced the first flight of the partially configured STOL variant (for 'Short Take-Off and Landing') of its ATR 42-600 aircraft. The flight took off at 10:00 from Francazal airport in France and lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes.

The crew performed some tests to measure the performance of the upgraded aircraft. Following the successful completion of its first flight, new functionalities will be tested one at a time, starting with the MFC-NG (Multifunctional Computer New Generation), followed by the Autobrake, Ground Spoiler, and increased take-off rating systems. The aircraft will enter its final configuration at the end of the year with the addition of a new larger rudder. The certification phase will start in 2023.

There are currently close to 500 airports worldwide with a runway length between 800 and 1,000 meters (2,625 to 3,281 feet) that could welcome the ATR 42-600S. The new STOL variant will help regional carriers and passengers benefit from increased regional connectivity.