What’s the difference between a private turboprop and a private jet?

We’re often asked about the difference between a private jet and a private turboprop aircraft.

Beechcraft King Air on ground

On a turboprop aircraft such as the King Air, the propellors are clearly visible.

It all boils down to the type of engine that powers the aircraft.

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. Whereas if it has a jet engine, the exhaust gases generate a direct power called ‘thrust’.

Turboprop engine

Diagram of a Turboprop engine (Source: Emoscopes)

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, whereas a jet will not.

Turboprops can suffer from somewhat of an image problem – perceived as noisy and slow. But newer turboprops are getting faster and quieter, and it’s not true to say that propeller aircraft are inferior.

In fact there are many types of flight when turboprop aircraft are ideal. They are more fuel-efficient and therefore more cost-effective than a jet aircraft for short and regional flights. And their agility means they can land at airports with short runways (even grass or other unmade surfaces in some cases).

Which private turboprop aircraft are the most popular?

The Beechcraft King Air is the best known and most popular private charter twin engine turboprop. It can seat between 7 and 11 people in different configurations, and many have a VIP interior to rival luxury jets.

This summer we’re seeing an increase in demand for the Piaggio Avanti, known as the ‘Posh Prop’. This stylish and fast twin engine turboprop is a great alternative to a small jet, with a 1,500 nm range, spacious cabin and excellent luggage capacity.

Another aircraft that’s becoming more and more popular with our clients is the single engine turboprop, the Pilatus PC-12. New regulations in Europe in 2017 now make single engine turboprops able to operate commercial private charter flights. So we’re expecting to see more and more PC-12s enter the charter market in the next couple of years.

Find out more about the PC-12 in our Q&A video with one of Europe’s foremost experts on the aircraft:

What are the advantages of a private turboprop aircraft?

  • More cost-effective for shorter distances
  • Instant power
  • Slower landing speed means it can access shorter runways and remote locations
Embraer Legacy 650

Private jet aircraft, such as the Legacy 650, provide more range and speed.

When is a private jet aircraft better than a turboprop?

There are of course times when a jet aircraft will be clearly a better choice than a turboprop. And some clients have a clear preference for a jet, for any flight. The benefits of a jet over a turboprop, include:

  • More power and speed
  • Less engine noise
  • Longer range
Our expert Flight Team are available 24-hours for further advice on which type of aircraft is best for your itinerary. Contact us or call +44 (0)20 7100 6960.