2 Propeller Engines

Aircraft with two prop-driven engines on the wings are commonly known as commuter planes or turboprops. There are many of them in private aviation, but in commercial airline service the most common ones are the Dash-8, ATR-72, Embraer Brasilia, and the Saab 340. Place your mouse over the red links below to see the illustrations highlighted with the differences.



  • The DHC-8, or Dash-8 as it is commonly known, was developed by DeHavilland Canada which is now owned by Bombardier, the same company that makes the CRJ regional jet. The version currently in production has the model designation “Q400” which stands for “Quiet” as they have incorporated a new noise and vibration control system. Production began in 1986. The largest operator of this plane in the world is Air Canada (Jazz Air) with 84 and in the U.S., Alaska Airlines (Horizon Air) with 47 and US Airways (Piedmont Airlines) with 42.
  • Embraer produced its 30-seat regional airliner called the EMB-120 Brasilia from 1985 to 1997. Of the 204 remaining in service, the largest operator is Skywest Airlines with 45. They are used mostly on short regional routes in the western U.S.
  • The ATR is a French-built turboprop consisting of two models: the ATR-42 (42 passenger) and the ATR-72 (72 passenger). Production began in 1985 and the largest operator is TRIP, a regional airline in Brazil. FedEx also operates a number of them for cargo runs to small towns.
  • The Saab 340 is a Swedish-built commuter plane built from 1983 to 1998. 459 of them were built, and 277 remain in service today. The largest operators are REX (Regional Express) Airlines in Australia with 46, and then Silver Airways (Delta Connection) with 28.




Dash-8 and ATR
Both the Dash-8 (top right) and ATR (bottom right) have their wings on the top of the fuselage. The major difference is that on the Dash-8, the landing gear retract up into a space under the engine housing.
The ATR’s landing gear retracts up into the bottom of the fuselage.
Also, the tailcone is longer and comes to a point. The ATR-72 is 14 feet longer than an ATR-42.
Prop DHC-8 Dash 8
Prop ATR-72
Embraer 120 Brasilia
The Brasilia has a more conventional appearance and can be recognized by the low wings and long nose in front of the cockpit, which is typical of most Embraer aircraft.
Prop Embraer 120 Brasilia

Saab 340
The Saab 340 is another low-wing turboprop similar to the Embraer Brasilia but larger. The main difference is the horizontal stabilizer is at the bottom of the tail, while the Brasilia is at the top – also called a “T” tail. See illustrations to the right – Saab (top) and Brasilia (bottom)
Prop Saab 340
Prop - Saab 340
Prop - EMB-120


Turboprop Airliners

Click for photos of turboprop airliners

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