Hot Off the Runway

Why turboprops are making a comeback

Aksaran / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

A new generation of turboprop planes are making a comeback.

In 2002, Comair, Delta's regional subsidiary, could proudly claim to be the first all-jet commuter airline. Its 50-seat Embraer and Bombardier regional planes freed us from turboprops, like the Short 360 and Saab 340--flying migraine machines with the comfort of the backseat of a VW Beetle. But in 2012, Comair announced its demise because those jets are too costly to operate profitably. And now a new generation of turboprops is making a comeback--and offering a vastly improved travel experience.

Avions de Transport Regional (ATR), a European maker of commuter turboprops, has enough orders for its 50-to-74-seat ATR 72-600 to keep its...

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