Dolphins, Kumamon Grace Body Of Amakusa Airlines' New Aircraft

Dolphins, Kumamon grace body of Amakusa Airlines' new aircraftBearing cute mascots on the outside and colorful surroundings on the inside, regional carrier Amakusa Airlines Co.'s new airliner was rolled out here on Sept. 29.
The twin-engine turboprop ATR42-600 was unveiled by the carrier, based in the prefecture's Amakusa, at a hangar in Sojo University's airport campus in Kikuyo. The facility is sited adjacent to Kumamoto Airport, which straddles several municipalities.

Like its predecessor, the replacement plane is painted bright blue, and features an illustration of a mother dolphin on its fuselage and her calves on each of the engine nacelles. In addition, its belly is adorned with an image of Kumamoto Prefecture's beloved bear-like mascot Kumamon in a Santa Claus costume.

"Passengers should be able to enjoy a good view, as the plane won't be flying at such a high altitude," said Takashi Yoshimura, president of Amakusa Airlines. "People on the ground should also be able to spot Kumamon painted on the aircraft's belly."

Inside the plane are red leather seats to accommodate 48 passengers, who will be serviced by one flight attendant. The pilot and co-pilot will be stationed in a glass cockpit, a state-of-the-art design featuring digital displays instead of analog gauges used in traditional aircraft.

The ATR42-600 is manufactured by ATR, a French-Italian joint aviation venture based in Toulouse, France. The new airliner will be replacing the Bombardier Dash 8, the aircraft currently in service for Amakusa Airlines, at the end of January at the earliest.

Once it enters service, the plane will make 10 daily fights, five round trips of the Amakusa-Kumamoto, Amakusa-Fukuoka and Kumamoto-Osaka routes.