So you are going to push the boat out: Turbo Prop versus Jet, that is the question?

08-08-18
Turboprop versus jet aircraft that is the question? Pushing the boat out: turboprop versus jet? Are turboprop aircraft as luxurious as jets? Do turboprop aircraft offer greater flexibility in terms of the airports I can use? Are turboprop aircraft more cost effective than jets on shorter flights? Is it more appropriate to hire a turboprop aircraft for shorter flights? Can altitude help to avoid bad weather?

So you have made the decision to push the boat out and hire a private plane for your holiday or business trip. Well that is the hard bit out of the way. The next question is whether to hire a turbo prop plane or a jet for your trip and the answer surely lies in what your budget is and where you are trying to get to!

So when is the Turbo prop more appropriate?

Turbo prop aircraft have been designed to be very efficient when operating at slower speeds and lower altitudes. When flown at the correct speed and height they are extremely efficient and thus use less fuel which in turn significantly reduces the hourly cost of the aircraft. The sweet spot therefore for the turbo prop aircraft is under say 500 nautical miles each way.

Turbo prop aircraft also offer more flexibility with regard to airports

Turbo prop aircraft do not require as long a runway for take-off and landing as jets and as a result this opens up the possibility of using smaller regional, local and even grass airfields which may provide greater ease of access for the passengers and deliver them to an airport closer to their actual final destination. 

Popular misconceptions about luxury!

Passengers have long since suffered from the popular misconception that because it has a propeller at the front, it cannot be as luxurious as a jet. This is simply not the case and many of the modern turbo prop aircraft produced and operating today have cabins which are every bit as luxurious as hose of jets!

But if you want to fly further?

As we have said the turboprop aircraft is extremely efficient on short distance flights but when it comes to longer distances, his is when the jet comes into play. Obviously jets fly at much greater speeds allowing them to carry a bigger payload (in this case passengers) a greater distance and so their range capabilities far exceed that of the turboprop.

Altitude can help you to avoid bad weather

Typically, a turboprop aircraft does not fly any higher than say 30,000 feet whereas a jet, even the mid-sized ones, will be capable of reaching altitudes far in excess of this. But why is this an advantage? Well if you are going to encounter bad weather or an area of turbulence, the jet is often able to get above it thereby avoiding discomfort for the passengers.

But what about the cost differential?

Obviously jets can fly further and faster than a turboprop aircraft but in doing so they burn a lot more fuel which makes them significantly more expensive to operate. But added to this higher fuel cost, maintenance and insurance costs for a jet are also usually a lot more.

So what is the verdict…

Looking at all the above it appears that the bottom line is that if you are privately hiring an aircraft for a shorter flight, then the jet is significantly more expensive than a turboprop. However, due to their distance and speed capabilities if you want to fly to the other side of the world, hiring a jet is really the only option!

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About the author

Will Graham

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I graduated from the University of Warwick with a BSc Hons in Mathematics & Statistics. Since leaving university I have become Founder and Director of FlexiFly.co.uk.

While studying I played an active role in the family nursing home business, The Graham Care Group, and have continued as a Graduate Trainee alongside my work with FlexiFly, being involved with all areas of the business.

For some years I have been actively involved in international motorsport and achieved numerous awards as co-driver to a European Rally Champion (my dad!). It was these experiences of weekends in Europe that partly inspired us about how we could make air travel more flexible and convenient. The calibre of competitors we met on events have given us insight into the potential our alternative to traditional aircraft charter has.

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