Turboprops not Popular in The US?

Let me just say I like turboprop, flew on many in my years. I’ve read some articles online about it but nothing current. So why do Americans dislike them? They’re used overseas extensively. Yes older ones can be noisy and vibrate your fillings out and they use to be real slow. They can be a little more susceptible to weather.

However, new advancements like the Q400 and the ATR-72/600 make them safer, quieter, faster and more room. Comparing with RJs on ~60 -90 min flights they are generally near the same speeds and altitudes (though RJs do go higher but for minutes before descending. When looking at ground speeds, they’re not much faster and fly mostly through the same weather.

Just as a rough example a flight from KSAN to KOAK in a brisk headwind with full loads an E-170 will burn around 6,500 pounds of fuel, a Q400 on the same flight will burn about 2,600 pounds. Even though a turboprop Wil save fuel, you loose about 5-10 minutes depending on winds. This market accounts for about 30% of US air traffic, think of all the money and the environment could be saved. But it seems for all of the crying to save the planet and wanting cheap airline tickets to get there fast for folks about instant gratification and wanting it all now, 10-15 minutes is just too much to give up.

I don’t know, maybe they’re too bumpy for people. Do regional airlines not like them because of their perception and fear potential pax booking with someone else? Could it be about ACMI issues, maintenance rates, or aircraft that can be used for short regional hops one week then rotated to longer flights like San Diego to Seattle?

Anyway, just soliciting thoughts, especially those who do work in the industry.


I don’t know a huge amount about the American market but here in Scotland I see more turboprops that jet engine aircraft at GLA.

1 Like

The US is one of the many countries like Australia and China which are very big. Jet engine aircraft are faster when trying to get from Point A to Point B. Turboprops are more common in small places like Europe due to Jet Aircraft being unable to reach their max speed in the distance they have. The US will have 737 and small regional jets as they can fly to small airports but have high cruise speeds.


Exactly :-) I know they’re in some hyper localized markets in the US like Alaska, the Pacific Northwest. PSA Regional uses them in Eastern Tennessee and North Carolina. When I look for flights in Flightaware you don’t see many except in some micro-markets

Australia uses the Q400 quite a bit and to take Atlanta for example, there are a lot of daily flights in and out that are at or around an hour or less flight time


QantasLink also has the 717 when flying to the middle of Australia, it is a low demand route so the 717 is used. It also depends on demand, if the route is so unpopular that even a 717 can’t take people, small aircraft can be used. However the US has 300 million+ or something ridiculous. Most routes will have quite a large amount of people

One other thing I forgot to mention was that although it can be physically possible for 737s to service smaller fields but may not be within airfield rating and bust weight requirements. Plus airport fees are currently less for lighter aircraft than for many jets. Even if you took a Class C airfield to upgrade it for weight requirements for a 737 would cost billions ie runway thickness regardless of length, taxiway strengthen at widening in some cases navaids etc. It would not be cost effective because one, the local airport authority can’t afford it and second, if they did they’d jack the fees

1 Like

As I’m about to head off to bed, after flying on IF and reading here I thought about Skywest as an example. Everyday they fly an RJ like a CRJ or E-170/5 about 2-3 times a day as Delta Connection from Atlanta to Asheville, Charlotte, Kingsport each among other places. I don’t know how many butts are in these seats ranging from 49-74 that they fly each way but the actual flight times for these is around 45 minutes (you spend almost as much time during taxi lol). I’m not sure what Delta’s Scope Clause is set at for these routes. With those flight times you’re not getting there any faster in a jet over a Q400

I know Republic Airlines had Q400s for a while operating in Fl as United Express but got rid of them citing public perception: “Outside of the Pacific Northwest, that does not appear to be a feasible goal. United’s Q400 fleet was held up as a successful operation, but in an ironic twist, will now be replaced by regional jets. The problem, as it always is, appears to be the poor customer perception of turboprops in the United States. Until that changes, US airlines will be unable to take advantage of the superior operating economics of them”.

Usually these turboprops are used on remote airports as it requires less runway length to takeoff alongside low demand. This is why you can find many Turboprops in Southeast Asia. While in US, it’s rare to see these circumtances, with pretty high demand and I guess it wouldn’t be enough for a Q400 or ATR-72 to handle it despite low fuel consumption. I meant jet airliners can carry more passengers and cargo despite the fact of high fuel consumption in my opinion

1 Like

Here in New Zealand, turboprops are everywhere. They do plenty of routes leaving routes with higher demands to jets, but most airports are small so Q300’s and ATR’s will have to do. Basically here, if you want to go somewhere, you’ll most likely end up on a turboprop.

I know that no “mainline” US Air Carrier will ever go TP but of all the daily US regional flights per day done by regional contract airlines that serve these types of routes is what we’re talking about and is countless. I can’t cite an exact statistic at the moment but in a 2016 FAA report they said there was 9,709,000 scheduled passenger flights/15,631,000 flights handled that year and if you make it simple and just say 5~10% of those were an hour or less and regional airlines coverage, well that’s a lot lol. I’ve read somewhere that it was as high as 30% but I think that includes 717/MD88/95 E-190/5 flights under 2 hours


1 Like

I think the reason for this is stated above but to some it up airlines in us use jets as there bigger(not always) and bit more comfortable.

1 Like

There is quite a large demand for short regional flights in the US, which is obviously the main purpose of aircraft like the Q400. A small regional jet can fill that demand much better than a turboprop because it can fly to hubs that are farther away, complete more flights in a day, and carry more passengers per flight.

1 Like

Commercial turboprops in the US are usually located on the coasts. Horizon has Q400 turboprops, and they operate in the northwest, on the coast. Piedmont has Q300 aircraft that operate mostly on the east coast. This is most likely because they need to connect some smaller coastal cities, such as Wilmington, North Carolina (ILM) with big cities such as Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT).

Well Q400 carries the same amount of pax as a E170/5 and CRJ700. Union Scope Clauses stipulate on what routes mainline air carriers can use their regional partners for and how often. With “long” flights of ~2 hours which you do find some regional partners do for mainline on average you won’t usually have extra time for more flights per day over the Q400, ATR-72/600 because of total duty day regulations, often delays and ground times including taxi times.

Mainlines do use 737s/A319s and even larger 757/767 on some these short routes durning peak times to airports that support them. The E190/95, again due to scope clauses, the use of these aircraft in the US are pretty much limited to some mainline carriers like Jet Blue and Spirit and AA that use them for the 100 seat market. But generally the mainline carriers rely on their RJ partners for most of these flights when demand is lower for a 50-70 seat market in which turboprop excel at and is often a sizable chunk of daily US flights. That’s where the focus of comparison should be and those flights that serve smaller fields that only RJs and ATR/Qs can fill.

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.