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The Last Propeller Plane Operated By A Major US Airline Has Been Retired

We are approaching the end of the propeller-driven aircraft era. The skies were once filled with the spinning blades of propellers pulling along planes filled with passengers, the old engine-stye is not able to keep up in the global push for ever greater fuel economy.

American Airlines affiliate Piedmont Airlines gave a small ceremony for Piedmont Flight 4927, a Bombardier Dash-8 prop plane which landed at Salisbury, Maryland at 8:35 PM on July the 4th.

There weren’t any trumpets, bagpipes or a marching band. There was no red carpet or flashing sirens. There was just a pair of firetrucks providing a ceremonial arc of water for the Dash-8 to taxi through on its way to disembark, and then the scrapheap.

Piedmont Airlines was actually the first American operator of the Bombardier Dash-8 back in 1984, although back then it was known as the de Havilland Dash-8. Bombardier acquired de Havilland Canada back in 1992 and continued to design and sell the Dash-8 series of aircraft as one of their best regional airline sellers.

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This particular Dash-8 began service with Piedmont back in May of 1985. The airline was so invested in the Dash-8 that they even made a documentary on the plane to commemorate its passing. It’s a fascinating look at the history of turboprop aircraft and how the Dash-8 found incredible success when jet aircraft were becoming the dominant force in aeronautics.

American Airlines is the last major US carrier to stop using prop planes in their fleets. United Airlines had their final flight on May 31st when another Dash-8 landed in Guam for the last time. Delta stopped operating their fleet of propeller-driven aircraft way back in the ‘70s.

To replace the Dash-8, most regional carriers are either sticking with Bombardier but on other jet-based designs, or switching to Brazilian aerospace firm Embraer SA. American Airlines is replacing their fleet of Dash-8s with the Embraer 145 regional jet.

Although the Dash-8 is no longer being used with the biggest US airlines, it’s still used all over the world by smaller carriers and by various national governments.

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