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Return Of Props To US Regional Market?  
User currently offlineFlyASAGuy2005 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 7004 posts, RR: 11
Posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 8741 times:

Browsing through the database today, I got to thinking about where we are as far as regional market share. Let's look at Delta for example. Their mainline fleet is about the same in #s as DCI aircraft. That is a lot of fuel being used and many of the markets would do just fine with a 50 seat prop. The Q400 is a great a/c but the seat count may be a bit quite a few destinations that has not seen anything over 50 seats in about 10 or so years. US/Piedmont seems to be happy with their 100s and 200s.

Perhaps the S340 was not quite the size that they were looking for but then again, from all indications, NW loved them. Pretty much all Georgia-Atlanta flights could be done with a prop of the right seating capacity as well the likes of MGM, DHN, TUP, CHA, TRI, GSP (mix of jets a props maybe), OAJ. And this is just for ATL. Same can be done for MEM, MSP, and I will dare to say LGA.

The way things are going with scope, I don't think it's a matter of if but when. What a/c are out there can can fill the role?


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14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinepeanuts From Netherlands, joined Dec 2009, 1411 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 8710 times:

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Thread starter):
What a/c are out there can can fill the role?

That's the crux of it aIl, I think. No suitable prop at this time, from what I hear.
You'd think someone has a solution to few hundred miles flying...
US airlines are also dealing with a huge perception issue though, with props.

I wish the F27 Friendship was still around...or a new turbo version.

[Edited 2010-09-25 16:47:23]


Question Conventional Wisdom. While not all commonly held beliefs are wrong…all should be questioned.
User currently offlinelightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12404 posts, RR: 100
Reply 2, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 8561 times:
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The 2nd issue is the death of the sub 250nm market due to TSA waits. I used to be mocked by friends for showing up to an airport 45 minutes before a flight... ahhh... the good days prior to the TSA.   Due to long security waits, most of the turboprop markets are now easier drives.  
Quoting peanuts (Reply 1):
No suitable prop at this time,

That too... but it is a 'chicken and egg' scenario. Until enough props are out of a given type, no one will buy them as the economics must be excellent due to the small sub-fleets that are likely.

Lightsaber



I've posted how many times?!?
User currently offlineDesertAir From Mexico, joined Jan 2006, 1444 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 8508 times:

I often wonder if props would have saved service to small communities like Stockton, CA. But on the other hand, UAE had prop service to Stockton and discontinued it. Allegiant is doing great with service to LAS with jets and has begun service to Long Beach that seems to also, be doing well. America West Express seemed to have done well with their RJs to Phoenix. It must be Stockton, a history of irregular service after deregulation and prop image.

User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21080 posts, RR: 56
Reply 4, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 8291 times:

Quoting peanuts (Reply 1):
I wish the F27 Friendship was still around...or a new turbo version.

Or that the Saab 2000 were still in production.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlinesrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 8284 times:

Ten years ago when I was a ramper @ ATL for ASA, some routes like ATL-CHA, ATL-TRI, ATL-MYR, ATL-CRW, ATL-GSP, and ATL-GPT were a mix of turboprops and CRJs (ATL-MCN had a mix of a/c, but this was because of the maintenance base at MCN . The CRJs were typically used for longer routes like ATL-IAH, ATL-SBN, ATL-ORH, ATL-ISP, ATL-MHT, ATL-DAL, ATL-SWF, ATL-HPN, ATL-OMA, ATL-YYZ, ATL-MTY, ATL-SAT, ATL-XNA, routes that were for the most part longer than 90 minutes.

When they started to replace the Brasilia and ATRs with the CRJ-200 and 700, that was perhaps not the smartest idea long term, but at that point, the airline environment was different than it is today.

The majority of Delta Connection routes under 90 minutes would be more economically served with turboprop a/c than with regional jets. Unfortunately, the turboprop market is rather limited in regards to new-build a/c. The Dash 8-400Q is not the one-size-fits-all solution in regards to a new-built a/c. In some respects, the ATR-42/72 is, but I think that ship sailed when ASA retired their ATR-72s. Embraer is still taking orders for the E-120 Brasilia, but orders these days are typically on-off orders. I think that ASA and Comair perhaps retired the type too early, as most of the routes the Saabs are flying out of ATL would have been ideal Brasilia routes. ASA could have ordered brand-new Brasilias to replace their fleet.


User currently offlinetoltommy From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 3276 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 8167 times:

Quoting peanuts (Reply 1):
US airlines are also dealing with a huge perception issue though, with props.

The airlines created the perception during the glory days of the CRJ2. Every small city was told that they were worthy of jet service in the 90's/00's. Now that the costs to operate a 50 seat jet are much higher, those communities are going to have to join the airlines in marketing modern small turboprop service.

Quoting lightsaber (Reply 2):
Until enough props are out of a given type, no one will buy them as the economics must be excellent due to the small sub-fleets that are likely.

Not exactly. If a regional has a fleet of 50 turboprops of a given model, they have economics of scale. Those 50 airplanes don't have to fly for one partner. My guess? Someone will figure this out and approach both the airlines and communities interested in keeping service. Pinnacle may be looking at this since they are allegedly looking for a way to keep the Mesaba saab fleet around, and add to the at-risk saab flying they have been doing at Colgan.


User currently offlineaaway From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 1507 posts, RR: 14
Reply 7, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 7857 times:

An interesting topic certainly worthy of discussion. Considering the evolution of the commuter / regional airlines industry, it's really an expansive subject.

In reference to the 30 seat-and-under market, I truly believe that regulation skewed the economics of that gauge of service. A couple of milestones:

Firstly, recall the mid 90s when FAA mandated commuter airline training and operations be conducted under F.A.R. 135 specs for aircraft with greater than 10 seats. This event practically killed the 19 seat (B1900/J31) market. Secondly, the 2003 Air Midwest crash at CLT - partly attributable to erroneous weight and balance calculations (this resulting from very aged FAA average pax weight data) - which resulted in the SAAB340 / EMB120 class of a/c essentially being restricted to 30 seats ad infinitum.

In particular, the upgauging from 19 to 30+ seats had a profound impact on the service pattern at many smaller communities as the additional capacity couldn't be supported at the same frequency of 19 seat schedules. The subsequent winnowing of skeds helped make the auto the transport node of choice for trips of 250 miles or less.
In the case of the latter (capacity restrictions), the planes could no longer be employed to their fullest economic potential.

These points are only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, when other economic factors (i.e., fuel and maintenance costs) are factored.

I think that a return to widespread t-prop usage in the regional segment is an inevitability. But, I'd suggest the ROIC will be so great that the present level of regional service will shrink.



With a choice between changing one's mind & proving there's no need to do so, most everyone gets busy on the proof.
User currently offliner2rho From Germany, joined Feb 2007, 2497 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 6588 times:

Quoting peanuts (Reply 1):
US airlines are also dealing with a huge perception issue though, with props.

But that perception, particularly in the US, was created by the airlines. Therefore, it is the airlines themselves who can change it back.

Perception or not, in the short-mid term a lot of small communities in the US will have to choose between prop or no air service at all. The days fo 20$ oil are gone forever, and we'll be back at 100$ sooner rather than later, which will further increase the ecconomic advantage of props versus RJ's.

Quoting peanuts (Reply 1):
No suitable prop at this time, from what I hear.

The Q400 and ATR's are very suitable aircraft in the 50-70 seat class. If you're talking about 19-30 seats, I agree there is no a/c out there, but I doubt there is a market below 50 seats at all (apart from some niches) when even the 50-seat market is being questioned.

Quoting lightsaber (Reply 2):
The 2nd issue is the death of the sub 250nm market due to TSA waits. I used to be mocked by friends for showing up to an airport 45 minutes before a flight... ahhh... the good days prior to the TSA. Due to long security waits, most of the turboprop markets are now easier drives.

And that's nothing, imagine if you guys had efficient rail service like the EU... indeed, the ever-increasing security is making short-haul flying less and less competitive.


User currently offlineThirtyEcho From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1639 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3218 times:

I would welcome the return of turboprops as replacements for the RJs. I feel much more comfortable going into short, wet , snowy or icy runways with those big fans out there.

The public, however, still equates props with piston engines. I once heard a passenger insist that an ATR 42
was a DC-3, sixty years old and may have dropped paratroopers in France on D-Day.


User currently offlineQuadagon From United States of America, joined Sep 2010, 34 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3180 times:

If the market is too small to be served with a CRJ, than it shouldn't need commercial air service. Unless its absoulutly necessary (like in small island nations maybe).


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User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 5842 posts, RR: 15
Reply 11, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3129 times:

Quoting aaway (Reply 7):
Firstly, recall the mid 90s when FAA mandated commuter airline training and operations be conducted under F.A.R. 135 specs for aircraft with greater than 10 seats. This event practically killed the 19 seat (B1900/J31) market.

Last I checked, that was the part 121 transition. Prior, the airlines were operating part 135.



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User currently offlineaaway From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 1507 posts, RR: 14
Reply 12, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 2900 times:

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 11):
Last I checked, that was the part 121 transition. Prior, the airlines were operating part 135

Yeah, that's my error. Transposed the two during my thought process. But that's what happens when you're thinking, rather than sleeping, at 1:30 in the morning.   



With a choice between changing one's mind & proving there's no need to do so, most everyone gets busy on the proof.
User currently offlinesilentbob From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1962 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2740 times:

Quoting toltommy (Reply 6):

The airlines created the perception during the glory days of the CRJ2. Every small city was told that they were worthy of jet service in the 90's/00's. Now that the costs to operate a 50 seat jet are much higher, those communities are going to have to join the airlines in marketing modern small turboprop service.

Not too hard to sell it as being more environmentally friendly. It's true and fashionable.


User currently offlineSATX From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 2840 posts, RR: 7
Reply 14, posted (3 years 6 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 2457 times:

Quoting silentbob (Reply 13):
Not too hard to sell it as being more environmentally friendly. It's true and fashionable.

It may very well be true, but I'm guessing only about 20% of Americans would find environmental friendliness important enough to take it seriously, and most of them probably avoid flying altogether as much as possible. Another 20% or so might actively *avoid* anything that looked or sounded environmentally friendly. By my reckoning you'd have a net loss of enthusiasm for your aircraft if you made the environment the primary focus of your sales pitch.

[Edited 2010-09-27 10:47:57]


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