FedEx Express (NYSE: FDX) said Tuesday it has taken delivery of its first custom-built turbo-prop freighter. Built by Toulouse, France-based ATR for regional service, the investment furthers FedEx’s fleet modernization program.
The ATR 72-600 production freighter will be used to feed cargo from smaller communities to larger airports where FedEx operates. The fuel-efficient aircraft will be operated in Europe by FedEx Express contractor ASL Airlines Ireland, which also flies on behalf of DHL, and UPS in Europe. A sister ASL company recently began transportation service for Amazon Air.
ASL Airlines Ireland is a large ATR and Boeing 737 operator.
It is an upgrade for FedEx because it is the first feeder freighter in the fleet capable of carrying containers or palletized freight, benefiting from a wide and open fuselage. It also has a large cargo door. With a 9-ton payload, it can carry bulk cargo, five 88-by-108-foot pallets or up to seven LD3 containers.
FedEx is the ATR 72-600 launch customer and has 30 aircraft on order, with options for 20 more. ATR conducted its first test flight of the new aircraft in late September.
There are currently about 130 converted ATR freighter aircraft in operation, representing one-third of the global regional freighter fleet, according to ATR.
FedEx said the two aircraft being replaced by the new ATRs will be donated to Madrid airport where they will be used for fire services training.
ATR is a joint venture between Airbus and Italian aerospace company Leonardo. FedEx has 40 older-model ATRs in its fleet.