Smaller planes are a growing trend. How safe is that for passengers?

With the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 comes questions. Along with the question about whether the plane had gathered enough ice to make it crash is the question– how safe are smaller jets and turboprops? Because flight demand is down, airlines have switched out some of their larger jets for smaller ones. Those, along with turboprop planes, are often used to connect people to smaller regional airports.

In this New York Times article, the issues surrounding smaller jets and prop planes are examined. Because of the increase of their use–regional aircraft use is up 40% since 2003–looking at their safety records is important.

Here are the positives:

  • Pilots of smaller planes receive as rigorous training as those who pilot larger jets
  • Many smaller planes are new and have the latest equipment.
  • Regional airports and larger airlines have the same safety standards.

Here are the negatives:

  • Since 2000, there have been eight crashes at regional airports. (However, think about the number of traffic accidents you hear about where you live.)
  • Airplanes flying into regional airports often are flown by pilots with less experience.

Another negative about the smaller airplanes is one my mother experienced on her last flight from Columbus to LaGuardia. Because she was on a small plane, she had to carry her carry-on luggage up and down the stairs, and walk outside in order to get into and out of the airport, something that is hard for her to do when it’s cold. Luckily, one of the flight attendant’s helped her.

This photo by jsbarrie is of a prop plane going from Flores to Guatemala City. According to the description, there were boxes of baby chicks among the cargo.