Regional turboprop manufacturer ATR has named Stefano Bortoli as its new CEO, following the departure of Christian Scherer, who was appointed Airbus CCO.
The appointment took place “with the unanimous support” of ATR shareholders Airbus and Leonardo. Bortoli was previously president of the ATR board and SVP-strategy, marketing development and sales of Leonardo Aircraft Division.
In the latter role, he has probably been involved in debates on the possibility to extend ATR’s product range to a 90-seater. Leonardo has long been a promoter of such a move, while Airbus has been reluctant.
Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia recently noted Airbus’ relative lack of enthusiasm for ATR was showing through the decision to pull Scherer—“a very promising” CEO since late 2016—back from its position at ATR. Just before Scherer, Patrick de Castelbajac was also an Airbus senior executive who spent two years at ATR, before returning to Airbus.
From 2015-17, Bortoli was SVP-sales and marketing of Leonardo Helicopter division, where he had to cope with a serious downturn in the rotorcraft industry.
While ATR is dominant on the commercial turboprop market with the ATR 42 and ATR 72, respectively, in the 50- and 70-seat classes, Bortoli will have to watch the renewed interest in the competing Bombardier Q400. He will have to convert into an order an ATR bid in China, where letters of intent were signed last year for a combined 13 aircraft. He will also need to strengthen what has appeared to be a successful return to the US market, with Fort Lauderdale-based regional operator Silver Airways.
For a number of operators, ATR is busy adding pilot training capacity, as carriers face a flight crew shortage.
Bortoli will also have to help ATR engineers complete the certification process of a combined vision system for improved situational awareness in poor visibility. Another technology challenge may be, if Bortoli chooses to launch it, creating a short takeoff and landing variant of the ATR 42, for destinations like fjords and small islands. Finally, a major development in progress is the ATR 72-600’s cargo version, the -600F, for US cargo specialist FedEx.