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End of an era: U.S. airlines drop last turboprops


As far as major U.S. airlines are concerned, the 115-year career of the airplane propeller is finally over, with American pulling the last turboprop plane from the American Eagle fleet that flies some of its regional routes.

Piedmont Airlines was the last of the American affiliates to make the move, retiring its last Bombardier Dash 8 on July 4th. United and Delta shed their last turboprops a while ago, Southwest and JetBlue have never had any, and Alaska Airlines dropped its last turboprop flights, operated by its Horizon Air affiliate, in March.

Once the backbone of regional air carriers in hub-and-spoke systems for the big airlines, turboprops have largely been replaced by 50-to-100 seat regional jets, and in some cases by larger airplanes flying less frequently. Two years ago, France's ATR hoped to reverse that change with its newer, more efficient turboprops, but the airlines were not interested.

Above, Piedmont Airlines supplied the photo of the last flight, with a ceremonial water arch.

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