Are twin turboprop engines planes as safe as twin jet engines planes? Why is a loss of one turboprop engine resulted in an air crash?
Can we assume that a turboprop engine doesn’t have surplus power as much as jet engines aircraft?
To begin with, a turboprop plane has a smaller jet engine to turn the propellers whereas a jet engine has a bigger pure jet engine providing the thrust. So both basically make use of the jet engine – but a turboprop plane must not be confused with a plane that used piston engine to turn the propellers. (Turboprop engines are more reliable than piston engines which are found in smaller planes)
My view is that both turboprop and jet engines are equally safe. Only thing is that a turbo prop plane has more moving parts which makes it more likely to have problems. Hence the less complex the engine is, the more reliable it would be. Nevertheless, if the engines are properly maintained, they are equally safe regardless of the type of engines.
Further, both planes can suffer from bird strikes. If the bird is small, it will just go through the engine and come out ‘fried’ or ‘vaporized’. If the bird is of average size it may cause some damage to the engine. If the bird is large (like the Canada Geese in the A320 Hudson River crash) it can cause the engine to fail.
Turboprops planes may be a little noisier but they are actually safer when landing in shorter runways. They are able to respond and stop much faster because the propellers provide extra drag and help the aircraft to stop when needed.
The other reason why the turboprops are suitable for certain routes is because of costs. Although jet planes are faster, for flights of less than 500 nautical miles, the shorter time spent in the air is insignificant when compared with the fuel savings in a turbo prop.
Having presented the basic facts, a loss of one engine will normally not be a problem to fly unless there are other unknown causes.
As regards to the TransAsia Airways ATR 72 crash in Taiwan, we should not speculate anything more as the Black Box will reveal exactly what went wrong.
As far as the power of the turbo prop engine is concerned, it has more than enough power to maintain a normal flight even with one engine out!
If you like what you read, more stories are found in my book LIFE IN THE SKIES (Preview here) and you can purchase a copy here. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my Twitter at @CaptKHLim or Facebook here