The last turboprop aircraft painted in the livery of one of the big three U.S. legacy carriers completed its final scheduled flight on the Fourth of July when it touched down near the Maryland seaside.
U.S. legacy carriers have now all but entirely abandoned turboprop commuter planes in favor of regional jet (RJ) aircraft. Plane spotters were on hand on Wednesday when Piedmont Airlines, which operates flights as American Eagle, flew its final Bombardier Dash 8 flight from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to Salisbury-Ocean City-Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY) and with that a historic era in aviation history ended forever.
The final flight of the @piedmontair #AmericanEagle de Havilland Canada Dash 8-300. N330EN getting ready to fly as @AmericanAir 4927 from @CLTAirport to Salisbury, Md. (Photos via @kbcody13) pic.twitter.com/IV8CoIwfBk
— Ross Feinstein (@RossFeinstein) July 4, 2018
American Airlines is the latest of the major U.S. airlines to move completely away from prop planes to an entirely jet aircraft fleet. United Airlines flew its last turboprop flight earlier this year and Delta Air Lines has also replaced its turboprop fleet with RJs in recent months.
For those air travelers who remain nostalgic about the Golden Age of Aviation, there are still plenty of opportunities to fly commercially on a turboprop passenger plane. Alaska Airlines maintains a fleet of Dash 8 aircraft to connect its hubs with smaller regional airports. Hawaiian Airlines uses a small fleet of ATR 42-500 twin engine prop planes to shuttle passengers from island to island through its Ohana subsidiary.
Although Time Magazine declared “Here’s Why You’ll Probably Never Fly on a Propeller Plane Ever Again,” the future actually looks quite bright for these workhorses of the aviation industry. European aircraft manufacturer ATR, which is 50 percent owned by Airbus, says it expects the market for turboprop-powered passenger planes to increase by 80 percent over the next 20 years.
Forbes reports that while passengers’ next commercial airline flights won’t likely involve prop planes, chances are their next private plane flights will be on turboprop aircraft. The propeller-powered planes still have some considerable economic, comfort and flexibility advantages over private jets.
[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]