Turboprops vs regional jets (operating costs)


What is the difference in operating costs between a regional jet (CRJ200, ERJ145) and a turboprop like a saab 340? Also, what is the difference in main. costs?


Generally speaking, operating cost is much lower on the turbo.

Take a look at J. Mac’s section of the April FLYING magazine.

Horizon Air converted most of their CRJ orders to Q400’s.


Similar topic from last year. This should offer some additional info. on other advantages/disadvantages of turboprops.


One of the major factors in the demise of Indepence Air, formally Atlantic Coast Airlines, was the high operating cost of the CRJ200. That type actually has one of the highest operating cost per seat/mile in the category.


I just published an article “Turboprops Are Here To Stay” in my blog “Aviation In Focus” to discuss the rebirth of turboprops.

aviationinfocus.blogspot.com/200 … -stay.html


Turboprops are useful on very short markets, but you’ll never see them take over for many RJ’s on stage lengths longer than 400 miles as their efficiency advantage starts to go away and you start getting worse utilization numbers.


except for the Q400’s.


From National Post - Canada

Horizon Air to scrap jets in favour of Bombardier turboprops
Posted: April 24, 2008, 10:28 AM by Scott Deveau
Horizon Air, a regional affiliate of Alaska Airlines, plans to scrap its fleet of regional jets and replace them with the 76-seat Q400 turboprop built by Montreal’s Bombardier Inc. within the next two years.

The move is aimed at reducing fuel and maintenance costs at the airline, which is based in SeaTac, Wash., by allowing it to operate a single aircraft fleet of the fuel-efficient planes, Alaska Air Group said in a statement.

“Our economic fuel costs for the first quarter of 2008 jumped US$89-million or 45% over what we paid a year ago on a slight increase in consumption,” said Bill Ayer, Alaska Air Group chief executive officer, in a statement. “Given the magnitude of this increase and the softening economy, we’re taking aggressive actions now to improve our business and profitability.”

Horizon already has 33 Q400s in its fleet and would be looking to the replace its existing 20 Bombardier CRJ 700s, in addition to the 12 37-seat turboprops it has already said it is planning to retire by June 2009.

When the transition is complete, Horizon’s fleet will consist of 48 Q400s or more “depending on how many of its 20 purchase options with Bombardier the airline chooses to exercise,” the company said.

Scott Deveau


I have a question on this topic. Here at South Bend, there are a lot of flights from South Bend (SBN) to Chicago O’hare (ORD), and almost invariably the equipment is a regional jet, CRJ or Embraer. The cruising altitudes for these flights rarely peak above 10000 ft. Why on earth do they continue to use the less efficient regional jets over a much more efficient turboprop with fuel costs the way they are? I doubt the regional jets even have much of a time advantage over the turboprops.

But, what I am really curious about is this. Do they pressurize these regional jets on these short hops. It seems like a lot of unecessary airframe cycles to pressurize an aircraft that only climbs to 10000 ft, but the climb rates of a jet are probably such that cabin pressure must be regulated unless you wish to destroy all the passengers’ inner ear. So, what’s the story: do the pressurize these regional jets for 90 mile hops?


because AA and UA don’t have any turboprops based in ORD anymore. It’s cheaper to fly the slightly higher operating costs of the RJ’s than to add another type to the fleet to serve the few markets where a prop makes sense from ORD (SBN, MKE, MSN, ATW, AZO) those markets could be efficiently be served by a fleet of 3 or 4 a/c and running a fleet (or sub-fleet) that small is very inefficient.


Don’t forget, AA used the ATR turbo at ORD and that ended badly. Quite frankly, a train makes more sense on those short routes. My airport is serviced by Q200 and Q400 to Seattle 89.5nm away. I’d never fly or drive that route again if we had reliable train service.


Indeed, there is reliable train service between Chicago and South Bend. The South Shore Line is an electric powered rail service. I’ve traveled on it several times, and I’ll be taking it four times in the next week to visit my folks back home in Chicago. With the price of gas, it just makes sense, and it is nice to just relax without having to deal with driving. The only option that I would take over the South Shore would be flying myself (no pun intended), which I have also done before.

What about the pressurization issue that I asked about previously? Are there any insights?


drdisque answered it well but I think one of the airlines was saying that the turboprops are a lot slower in the pattern for landing, which is an issue at a busy airport like Ohare. However, CRJ’s are dogs climbing.


Yes they would pressurize. However, during those lower altitude jaunts the pressure differential (psid) is low in comparison to the aircraft’s maximum psid which it would experience at normal cruise altitudes. So there is much less stress imposed on the airframe than during a max psid pressurization cycle.


Yes they would pressurize. However, during those lower altitude jaunts the pressure differential (psid) is low in comparison to the aircraft’s maximum psid which it would experience at normal cruise altitudes. So there is much less stress imposed on the airframe than during a max psid pressurization cycle.

How is this quantified by the manufacturer and/or airline? I’ve heard technical specifications regarding certain maintenance activities related to airworthiness after so many airframe cycles. How do they quantify this for an aircraft that may fly 2 flights at 10000 ft and another flight at 30000 ft? Do they use different formulas or do they go by the more stringent standards (such as the standards for flight at 30000 ft) even though the aircraft used only on 10000 ft routes may be capable of many more cycles?


For practical purposes of maintenance time/life cycles, a cycle is a cycle, regardless of the level of pressurization. Other airframe stresses are taken into account in airframe cycles as well, like landing gear, wing and tail structures, etc. Airframe cycles are typically counted by the number of landings, and engine cycles typically counted for each acceleration to takeoff power, but can vary based on manufacturer definition.

As aircraft accumulate hours, airframe and engine cycles can be different. For example, when an engine is removed for inspection/overhaul a fresh inspected/overhauled/loaner engine is installed and the airframe keeps on going. Airlines just accomplish this through a rotable engine stock. Private aircraft may send out the original engine, install an interim loaner engine to be able to keep flying, and reinstall the original when inspection/overhaul is complete.


100% true. I have worked in the airlines and am now working corporate jets.


As a mech.?


American Eagle had huge success with first the Shorts in ORD and then the ATR in ORD,DFW,JFK,MIA, and SJU. It was a tragedy what happened in 1994 but I don’t think that that means the aircraft is a failure. In fact, Eagle flew the ATR for nearly 9 years out of ORD with one fatal accident. I’d say that is an excellent safefy record. I worked on the ATR’s for more than 7 years and would be grateful to see them come back. I would like to see AMR make money again and turboprops on short routes is a great place to start.


I remember that time in 94 when AA flew the ATR’s out of LAX when that whole icing issue was being resolved. Didn’t last too long, but it was nice to see something different here. Now, Eagle has replaced a few of the Saab flights with E135’s on the SAN-LAX. Skywest tried it with the CRJ1/2, but now continues with the Brasilia on all flights between the 2 cities.