It’s a question that many people ask me, especially those new to private aviation: What is the difference between a turboprop and a jet?
In technical terms, it all comes down to the engine. Which type of engine does the aircraft have?
In a turboprop (short for turbo propeller) engine, the gases produced by the output of the turbine engine drive a propeller, which in turn generates the aircraft’s power.
If it has a jet engine, the exhaust gases generate a direct power called ‘thrust’.
Visually you can see the difference if you look at them side-by-side on a runway: The turboprop will have obvious propellers on the outside of the aircraft.
But it’s certainly not true to say that propeller aircraft are slow or inferior to a jet.
There are many types of flight when turboprop aircraft are ideal, such as short and regional flights. They are more fuel-efficient and therefore more cost-effective than a jet aircraft. They can also be very high tech and fast.
The Beechcraft King Air is best example of this – the world’s most successful turboprop can seat between 7 and 11 people in different configurations, and many have a VIP interior to rival luxury jets. More about the Beechcraft King Air.
What are the advantages of a turboprop aircraft?
- More cost-effective for shorter distances
- Instant power
- Slower landing speed means it can access shorter runways and remote locations
What are the advantages of a jet aircraft?
- More power and speed
- Less engine noise
- Longer range