A chapter of U.S. air travel came to a quiet end on July 4 when the final turboprop flight at American Airlines Group Inc. landed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore at dusk.
American regional carrier Piedmont Airlines was the final operator of turboprops among the Big Three U.S. carriers and their affiliates, an era that stretched back to the first flights by Delta Air Lines Inc. and United in 1928. American’s initial commercial service in June 1936 used a Douglas DC-3.
United ended its prop flying May 31, with the last service in Guam.
Piedmont Flight 4927, a Bombardier Dash 8-300, arrived in Salisbury, Maryland at 8:35 p.m. local time Wednesday from American’s Charlotte, North Carolina hub. The Dash 8 first flew at Piedmont in May 1985. Piedmont also created a documentary film to celebrate the Dash 8’s retirement.
The retirement of American’s prop planes followed similar decisions at Delta and United Continental Holdings Inc., which have replaced them with a mix of Bombardier and Embraer SA regional jets. American replaced the Salisbury flights with Embraer 145 jets. (Southwest Airlines Co. briefly flew Boeing 717 and 727 jets but never turboprops.)
Of course, the turboprop is hardly gone from U.S. skies. Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group Inc., still flies the Bombardier Q-400 and Empire Airlines Inc. flies the ATR 42-500 in Hawaii for Hawaiian Holdings Inc.’s Ohana unit. The collective turboprop retirement was reported earlier by The Cranky Flier blog.