Propeller Planes Come Back Amid High Fuel Prices
Record-high fuel prices have hammered airlines, forcing executives to eliminate flights, cut back on unprofitable routes and force passengers to pay for many perks that used to be free.
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#1 Nov 29, 2012
Not only are turbo-prop more fuel-efficient but they can operate in airspace that regional jets cannot and still remain efficient.
It's also a big help to reduing ATC congestion in busy airspace by taking relatvely short-haul regional jets out of the high altitude arrival streams or departue gates used by the long-haul flight and allowing them to come in below the turbo-jets. Terminal ATC has a lot more options to mix/merge the high and low traffic once they're in the terminal airspace.
For the airports that still use LAHSO, turbo-props almost always have the capability to use runways that regional jets cannot. Turbo-props are a 'win-win' option.
Since: May 08
#2 Nov 29, 2012
It was because the public associated propellers with old airlies had to buy RJ's in the first place. Poor planing and public education on thier parts
#3 Nov 29, 2012
The turbo props in production today are based on old frames such as the Q-400. They still use deice boots that puncture easily,have a low ceiling but are good for short routes under 400 to 500 miles. The new larger RJ's in the 70 to 100 seat class are replacing the 50 seat and lower RJ's and this will mean the loss of service for small cities. The Q-400 is too large for many markets served by the old dash-8s and saab 340's.
Turbo props have their place but it is a very small segment and no large airlines in America have signed on with large orders.
As far as ATC, the turbo props slow the sequencing of landing and departing aircraft.Usairways was clogging up the lanes at LGA with many dash-8-100 flights but now that the slot swap has been done,delta is using larger faster aircraft in their place.
#4 Nov 29, 2012
I wouldn't use LGA as a model for an efficient model from and ATC standpoint. If an airport only has one heading to use for all departures, then yes, the turbo-props slow down the problem.
Instead look what they do for airports that have developed procedures where they can segregated jets from props in the departure phase. You can roll jet/prop 6,000' and airborne all day long with divergence and just about double your departure capacity as long as the airspace can absorb that volume.
On arrival, most modern passenger turbo-props can maintain 230kts easily and that has almost no negative effect on 250kts turbo-jets in the terminal airspace. The props can keep their speed up longer on final and they normally can exit the runway faster which actually increases the arrival capacity. 2 mile spacing on arrival is fine in VFR conditions with props...something that'd very very tough to do with an RJ.
#5 Nov 30, 2012
Problem is there are no more 37 seat props in production and the closest one is the ATR-42 42 seat model. They have not made a sale in the US market and bombardier only makes the Q-400,too large for many stations.
Piedmont the largest operator of the dash-8 has been dropping in fleet size over the past few years and 3 aircraft are coming up on cycle limits in 2013.
I feel the turbo prop market will remain a fringe player as they are only good on short flights and the newer RJ's are more economical than the 40-50 seat RJ's.
Still no takers for the Q-400 and ATR's so far, yet many larger RJ's are on the order books and coming on line.The article saying "the turbo props are making a comeback" appears to be wishful thinking.
#6 Dec 1, 2012
When a transportation company lets the passenger/customer decide on the vehicle used... It's Proouf positve the executives do not know their business.
Jets are for high altitude/thin air long hauls.
Turboprops are for low altitude/thick air short hauls.
Deice boots are used to fly at low altitude in known icing. Anti ice/heated leading edge, is used to fly through known icing into high altitude clear air.
#7 Dec 1, 2012
Turboprops today are based on old airframes??????!!!! I fly a big jet that was originally designed in 1976. The backbone of my airline's fleet is the 737NG who's airframe dates back to 1965. The basic Boeing narrow body fuselage dates back to the 1950's. The Q-400 is only about 15 years old. It's cockpit is more sophisticated than my 767 or most 737's.
I have flown jets and turboprops with deicing boots. They are made of thick rubber and do not puncture easily unless you poke them with a ice pick as part of the walk-around! Both the Lockheed Jetstar and the Citation had de-ice boots. None of them ever fell out of the sky because of it.
As far as slowing down LGA, now there's a hoot! If you fly the shuttle from BOS, you are at 16,000 feet. to DCA, 22,000 ft. Most of the jets today fly around at ECON speeds to save fuel which puts their low altitude cruise speeds pretty much the same as a Q400. Also about 40% of the total flight time is spent below 10,000 feet where the speed limit for ALL aircraft is 250 Kts. What slows down LGA is what slows down ALL of NY. The number of runways in the NY area is the same as it was in 1959. The amount of air traffic since then has increased tenfold. Gee, maybe THAT's the problem!
#8 Dec 1, 2012
I agree the number of runways has not kept up with amount of air traffic. The Q-400 is from the dash-8 family and as far as deice boots, I worked for a carrier that flies the dash and the boots were always being replaced.
Still what airlines are adding turbo props to their fleets? The Q-400 at 76 seats is too large for many small stations and the ATR's,while selling well in Europe have yet to crack the US market.
I have not flown a Q-400 yet, but the dash-8's on flights over an hour are uncomfortable with vibrations and noise.
It was also a waste of a slot at LGA to have dash-8's which are restricted to 35 seats taking up space that could have been used by aircraft 2 or 3 times larger and so carrying more passengers in that slot.
The turbo props are best used at airports that have runways dedicated to small regional aircraft.
#9 Dec 2, 2012
Hey, now we agree on something. Rubber boots are higher maintenance but basically safe IF maintained. AND, yes, there are too many little airplanes flying around! I don't say this out of disrespect for the express guys. I used to fly 19 seat turboprops, but we connected relatively small cities to hubs. Now the airlines use them between larger markets to add frequency, knowing that the more spots you have on the roulette wheel (schedule), the more likely you will get a hit. I think with the Q-400, which seats over 70 people it suits the market much of the time. I fly them home to visit my family fairly often. They are fast, super powerful and very comfortable inside. Yes, a little noisier than an express jet but not much. They are MUCH more spacious inside than the E145 jets, have two flight attendants and on Horizon/Alaska they have free wine tasting! Obviously this is only for the trip back home!
But back to the main topic. 10 pounds in a five pound bag! Ultimately most airports will have to develop slot limits and airlines will be forced to fly larger airplanes because all of the NIMBY types will not allow new runways or routes to be added.
#10 Dec 3, 2012
Bottom line... we need a rail system and leave the flying to the long haul destinations.Nobody should be flying NY to Boston, Detroit to Saginaw, Seattle to Portland,etc... Put in a better rail system like the rest of the developed world. Puddle jumping in airliners is just 'plane' stupid. We already have the best interstate system... now we need rail. Contrails in the sky isn't doing any of us any good.
#11 Dec 3, 2012
ABSOLUTELY! But in our current political environment, anyone who proposes such a plan is a left wing, BIG gummint pinko commie radical! We can't even get a train that goes directly from the city center to the airport in most cases. Both EWR and JFK finally got train connections but they both require inconvenient and time wasting secondary connections to existing commuter lines.
#12 Dec 3, 2012
Its nice to agree at times and share new lines of thought. As far as the rail line to JFK, I waited for decades for New York to extend rail lines to JFK, the largest international airport in the country only to offer a bus connection. Most airport projects get bogged down in endless studies that eat up funds that could be used to do the project and locals who live near an airport that has been there for years start to cry whenever or whatever airport project is announced.
Whats needed is for airports to be considered federally operated public concerns and not be liable for challenges in courts and immune from local and state laws. Its the only way to help airports keep up with increasing demand.
It took 20 years for Boston's Logan airport to add a 5000 foot commuter runway on airport property that did not involve the talking of land outside of the airport.
This scenario has been repeated all over the country and this is why so few new runways have been built over the past 20 years.
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