Many people are really surprised when they see that their next flight will be with an ATR plane, especially if they are in front of the 42 version. It’s not the smallest plane that flies in the air but it is most probably the smallest plane a regular passenger will ever fly.
And it really is an experience flying with this small plane.
Both versions of the plane have a couple of hundred of active planes that you can find flyings almost in every corner of the world. In Europe, the most probable regions where you will find this plane would be in France and Romania.
ATR is really popular also in Indonesia, the Philippines and New Zeeland. This plane is really good for connecting remote regions, island hoping and routes with low passenger demand.
The capacity of the ATR 42, depending on the configuration is at around 48 seats, while the somewhat bigger ATR 72 is configured to 68 to 72 seats.
Almost 30% of all my flights were made on ATR planes. And we are talking at this moment of at least 20 flights on ATR planes. All of them at this moment where made on TAROM’s fleet of ATR planes, since I am from Romania, this plane is really used on domestic routes and nearby international destinations from Bucharest to Sofia, Budapest, Belgrade or sometimes Istanbul.
My first flight on ATR plane
My forth ever flight was on this type of plane. When I checked my itinerary and saw that the plane will be with an ATR I was really expecting something in similar size with previously flown Boeing 737 or Airbus A320. Ok, maybe slightly smaller. After googleing the plane I saw here: such a small beauty but looking so vulnerable in the air. I really looked on trains departing from to my destination, but unfortunately, with train, I would have a 16-hour journey versus a one hour flight with this small ATR. So I headed to the airport even if I was really scared of this plane. It was right before Christmas, so even if I wanted to take the train, I wouldn’t make it home before Christmas Eve.
Now I am quite laughing about my first experience with this plane. I had since many flights with ATR planes and now I see it as one of the most comfortable planes up in the air. Of course, not in terms of seat comfort but in terms of flying.
Experience of the flight
Pretty much everything is intense on this plane. Even if the plane has low power turboprop engine you will feel the take-off power better than in a Boeing 747 take-off. I like much more the take-off in this plane than in bigger ones.
Also, during landing, you will feel really well the drag when flaps will be extended and landing gear will go down.
If it is windy, this plane moves more than a bigger plane.
There is not so much difference on flying this plane than on other bigger planes. Really. In cruising the experience is quite the same, you get more like the feeling that you are on a bus than on a plane, especially if you have a night flight.
Is it safe to fly on an ATR plane?
Generally speaking, flying is the safest form of traveling. Period. There is no reason to argue on that. Everybody agrees on that.
I said that before having flown for the fist time with this plane I documented a lot. I started playing Flight Simulator games, installed this plane and compared it with other planes. This plane felt for me the easiest plane to maneuver. I think the same is for pilots.
I think that maybe when you encounter turbulence or you have windy landings you will feel them more intense than in bigger planes, but it is normal. Maybe small planes are more in the headlines because they are flying more in regions where the airstrips are not so good and the aid of computer assisted landings and procedures is more likely to be non-existing.
Anyway, if I would have to fly on a Boeing or on an ATR, on a short route, on the safety side I would roll the dice. Of course, a jet plane is better because it is faster.