On a recent trip to an airport, I noticed a large number of Bombardier Dash 8s. I wanted to know - are turboprops less safe than traditional jets like the 737 or A320? For instance, I would imagine they are less forgiving with bird strikes.

  • $\begingroup$ How do you quantify "less safe"? They may have a higher accident rate just because they are used quite a bit more for small regional flights. I don't think they are any less safe in a bird strike incident, maybe moreso because the bird can't really travel through the engine... $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ To expand on @RonBeyer's point, take off & landing are the most dangerous part of the flight. Props are used on short-haul flights, so they spend more of their lives in the "most dangerous" part of the flight regime. Therefore, they might show up more often in accident statistics. However, it's far more dangerous to drive to the airport than it is to actually fly to the destination airport, so in that sense, no. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ A turbo-prop is a jet engine with an added transmission box = more moving parts and more to go wrong. That issue alone inherently increases mechanical malfunctions. $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this can be answered. Turbo prop aircraft are used in entirely different roles that increase risk. More freight, skydiving, short haul - this skews the statistics. $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ The pattern of your questions shows what I would categorise as an unhealthy fixation on aviation safety statistics. In reality, the incident rate is so low that it's possible to select your statistics to show that turbo-props are inherently unsafe, or that they are very much safer than large jets (choose your definition of large), or almost any other scenario. If a significant risk does appear in any type then that type is subject to greater scrutiny and/or grounded until it's fixed. If the risks of aviation are this concerning to you, don't even think about driving to the airport! $\endgroup$
    – user33770
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 1:58

1 Answer 1


There is no hard answer to this and it should always be looked at carefully as its dangerous to compare these things. The factors vary widely and a clear cut comparison is generally hard. Twin Turbo-Props may have a lower celling than your average regional jet, they often fly shorter routes and see more cycles compared to their total hourly lifetime, some turbo-props are even in reach of private pilots which puts them in a different operational situation all together but will be lumped in on the statistics.

The most comprehensive study I can find on the topic, and one I feel breaks it down nicely, is this one from NASA

Differences in Characteristics of Aviation Accidents during 1993-2012 Based on Aircraft Type

Im going to refrain from quoting to much directly as its all relevant and a fairly short 20 page read. The table that seems to sum it up best is the following (refer to study for table explanation):

enter image description here

A bit of a tangent but related, here is a nice article from AOPA comparing the data for Small Jets VS Turbo Props operated under part 91

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    $\begingroup$ This chart is not necessarily applicable. For example turbo prop aircraft are more likely to be used for skydiving while jets are not. These and other types of risky operation (insurance stats) that jets may not be being used for skew statistics. $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ @jwzumwalt I understand that skydiving carries a risk for those jumping out of the plane, but why would it make the flight any less safe? $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 9:08
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    $\begingroup$ Ask any sky diving pilot how the flight is flown... max power for 10min, then a wing over diving for the ground and runway. Do it all over again 6 times a day in a poorly maintained aircraft. The most dangerous part of any flight is landing and takeoff and they do it all day every 15min. Turbo props are also more apt to be used for ground spotting, forest fires, pipeline inspection, etc - quit literally the most dangerous types of flying and much more risky. $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 12:14

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