ATR 72 Vs Dash 8 – Which Turboprop Aircraft Is Better?

When it comes to turboprop aircraft, two brand names come to mind. First is the Aerei da Trasporto…

ATR 72 Vs Dash 8 – Which Turboprop Aircraft Is Better?

When it comes to turboprop aircraft, two brand names come to mind. First is the Aerei da Trasporto Regionale 72 (ATR 72) and the other is the De Havilland Canada DHC-8 (Dash 8). Which is better? Let us find out.

ATR is a leading manufacturer of turboprop aircraft. Photo: Watson88 via Flickr

Which aircraft are we comparing?

If you have flown on a commuter route to a smaller airport, there is a chance that you have flown on board a turboprop aircraft. This type of aircraft has propellers rather than jet engines (turbofan engines specifically) and operates a little slower, but is pressurised and still able to perform a similar journey as a jet aircraft. Turboprops do have some advantages such as able to land at smaller airports and cheaper to operate.

The first aircraft we will be comparing is the ATR 72, named after how many passengers it carries and developed in France by ATR in 1984. ATR is half-owned (50%) by Airbus, and benefits from its technology.

The second aircraft is the DHC-8 (or known as the Dash 8, not to be confused with the Dash-80), built by a range of builders over the lifetime of the brand (De Havilland in 1984, Boeing in 1988, Bombardier in 1992 and now Longview Aviation Capital in 2019).

As both aircraft types are in extensive use around the world and designed around the same time, they will make an adapt comparison. There are a few types of older ATR 72s, but we will be using the latest (the -600) for this study. As there are four types of Dash 8s (Q100, Q200, Q300 and Q400), we will use the most popular one (Q400) for this comparison.

Porter Airlines
Porter Airlines in Canada operates the Dash 8 exclusively. Photo: Porter Airlines

ATR 72 Vs Dash 8

We will start by examining the passenger and range capacities of both aircraft:

  • ATR 72 can transport 70-80 passengers (depending on seat pitch) to a range of 1,528 km (825 nautical miles).
  • Dash 8 Q400 can transport 82 passengers (with a 30-inch seat pitch) to a range of 2,040 km (1,100 nautical miles).

From the above, we can see that the Dash 8 Q400 narrowly beats the ATR 72 in range and passenger capacity. It can carry a few more passengers than the ATR 72 (but only a few more) to a slightly longer range.

air-new-zealand
Air New Zealand has a fleet of ATR 72s. Photo: Biponacci via Wikimedia Commons.

Fuel efficiency

However, most airlines won’t be using these aircraft to the maximum range and instead for small commuter routes. Thus, if they carry around the same passengers, how does their fuel efficiency compare?

Below is for a 555.6 km journey (300 nautical miles):

Model First flight Seats Fuel burn Fuel per seat
ATR 72-500 1997 70 1.42 kg/km (5.0 lb/mi) 2.53 L/100 km (93 mpg‑US)
Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 1998 78 2.16 kg/km (7.7 lb/mi) 3.46 L/100 km (68.0 mpg‑US)

(Source here for this data). 

The ATR-500 is one model previous to the compared -600, and only has an increase from 74 seats to 78 seats (as well as a few avionics improvements). It does have new engines, however, which may improve fuel burn.

Looking at the table above, we can see that the ATR 72 is far more fuel-efficient than the Q400, and thus cheaper to operate.

But don’t be so quick to dismiss the Q400. The more significant fuel burn is due to the speed of the aircraft which flies 150 knots faster than the ATR 72:

  • ATR 72 cruise speed: 510 km/h (280 kn)
  • Dash 8 Q400 cruise speed: 556–667 km/h (300–360 kn)

This fast speed means that the aircraft gets to its destination quicker (an hour flight on the Q400 takes one hour and 15 minutes on the ATR 72). More rapid flights mean more sectors in a day and it is possible that the Q400 would be able to do an additional one hour flight every six hours more than the ATR 72.

Alsie Express ATR42/72
A jetblack ATR 72. Photo: Alsie Express

How much do they cost?

The ATR 72 might be cheaper to operate, but will it cost more than the Dash 8?

  • ATR 72-600: $26 million USD
  • Dash 8 Q400: $32 million USD

Additionally, it is worth noting that the smaller Q300 which can carry only 56 passengers costs $14 million USD.

air-iceland-connect
Air Iceland Connect has Dash 8s in its fleet. Photo: Air Iceland Connect

Bottom line

Both aircraft provide a fantastic solution to commuter routes and should be considered by airlines. However, the ATR 72 comes in at a lower price and is cheaper to operate. Unless the airline needs those extra 300 or so nautical miles, has a high demand on a short route and needs to carry ten additional passengers, then the ATR 72 is the better of the two.

What do you think? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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DOT To Allow US Airlines To Drop Service To Certain Airports

The United States Department of Transportation is to allow domestic airlines to reduce or even drop services to…

DOT To Allow US Airlines To Drop Service To Certain Airports

The United States Department of Transportation is to allow domestic airlines to reduce or even drop services to certain airports. Airlines have been required to maintain skeleton services across most of their routes under the CARES Act provisions. But this was becoming impractical in light of the dramatic downturn in travel demand. Today, the Department of Transportation has moved to allow airlines to wind back or drop some services.

The Department of Transportation will allow airlines to drop services to some airports under certain conditions. Photo: Getty Images.

When the CARES Act was signed in late March, an airline receiving financial assistance was required to “maintain scheduled air transportation service as the Secretary deems necessary to ensure services to any point served by that air carrier before March 1, 2020.”

Walking a fine line between service expectations and economic realities

On the face of it, that seems fair enough. Airlines are receiving approximately $25 billion in funding under the CARES Act. That includes Delta Airlines receiving $5.4 billion, American Airlines receiving $5.8 billion, United Airlines receiving $6 billion, Alaska Airlines receiving $1.2 billion, and Southwest Airlines receiving $3.2 billion.

For that kind of money, you might think it’s reasonable that airlines maintain services to an airport near you.

DOT-US-Airports-dropped-getty
American Airlines is receiving around $5.8 billion in funding under the CARES Act. Photo: Getty Images.

But as airlines feel the bite from the drop in travel demand, they’ve inundated the Department of Transportation with exemption requests. Airlines have said demand on some routes is near zero. They’ve also argued maintaining services on some routes is “unreasonable, impracticable, costly, and challenging.”

The Secretary of the Department of Transportation is allowed to granted exemptions and has frequently done so. But the Secretary has also knocked back exemption requests.

Changes were announced today

Today, the Department of Transportation has announced some changes to service obligations that deals with the vexed issue of maintaining services on uneconomic routes. The aim is to allow carriers to reduce services without breaching the spirit and aim of the CARES Act.

The Department of Transportation is not going to allow a free-for-all withdrawal from marginal routes. All airports with an air service before March 1 will retain an air service and a link to the national air transportation system. But if a particular airport is serviced by two or three airlines, the Secretary may now allow just one airline to fly in.

DOT-US-Airports-dropped
United Airlines flies to scores of domestic destinations in the US. Photo: Alan Wilson via Wikimedia Commons.

Under the new provisions, airlines can apply for exemptions for up to five airports, or five percent of the airports they fly to, whichever is greater. To put this into some context, American Airlines flies to about 95 destinations in the United States, Southwest Airlines flies to about 100 domestic destinations, and United Airlines flies to about 78 domestic destinations.

The Department of Transportation says these changes should provide airlines with more flexibility to manage operations and reduce financial imposts while still ensuring airports across the United States maintain some air links.

Delta Air Lines is dropping services to ten airports tomorrow

This appears to be on top of existing exemptions. One of the biggest US carriers, Delta Air Lines, has cut 80% of its usual domestic capacity this quarter. As of tomorrow, the airline is quitting its routes from 10 airports in the USA. These include Chicago Midway, Oakland International, Hollywood Burbank, Long Beach, Manchester-Boston Regional, T.F. Green International, Westchester County, Stewart International, Akron-Canton, and Newport News/Williamsburg International.

DOT-US-Airports-dropped
Delta is dropping services to 10 airports tomorrow. Photo: Delta News Hub.

Delta has no plans to return to these airports until the start of October. The airline notes that all of these airports have nearby alternative airports. It’s not the end of the service cuts either. Delta Air Lines has applied to the Department of Transport for service exemptions to a further nine airports.

That’s just one airline. With US carriers bleeding cash, they are keen to cut costs where they can. The Department of Transport needs to walk a fine line between keeping air links open and accommodating economic realities for the airlines. Today’s adjustments out of the Department are a small step in that direction.  Airlines have until May 18 to submit lists of airports they want to cut flights to.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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