Ask the pilot: What is the difference between regular planes and propeller planes?

Even the most experienced travelers have many questions about the inner workings of airplanes. How do they react to weather conditions? How do they get washed? How do they land most safely? The experts with all the answers are, of course, the pilots.

Age: 51
Career: Marie took her private pilot’s license in the US at age 17. She continued flight training at Bromma Flygskola in Stockholm and started at Linjeflyg in 1989 as first officer on an F28, followed by Boeing 767s and 737s at SAS. Captain on a Boeing 737 since 2012.
Home base: ARN
Flies: Boeing 737
Flight hours: 14,000

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I noticed on my ticket that we’ll be flying on a propeller plane. My question then is, what is the difference (besides the obvious) between regular planes and propeller planes? 


Hi Aleksandra,
In your case, the propeller planes are turboprops. These planes have turbojet engines with a rotating propeller outside and they have more in common with the jet engines in large aircraft than with piston engines, which are commonly found in smaller aircraft.   

Turboprop aircraft are mainly used for short-haul flights, typically up to 480km. The reason for this is that they travel more efficiently at lower speeds and consume less fuel over these distances. 

The maximum altitude, as well as the optimum cruising altitude, for turboprops is -lower than for jet airplanes such as Boeing and Airbus. 

Turboprops are better suited for takeoffs and landings on shorter runways because they are lighter and able to operate at lower speeds. Not only that, the propellers provide extra drag, which can help slow the plane right down over a short distance. For these reasons  they are more likely to be used when flying in and out of smaller airports. 

Flight Captain Marie Stridh

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