American Eagle once operated close to 150 Saab 340s. Today, however, the turboprop is a much rarer sight across the skies and on the runways in the US. Meanwhile, there are still a little over two dozen units operating regional services across the country.
From hundreds to a handful
The nimble Swedish turboprop the Saab 340 was first introduced into service in 1984, one year after taking its first flight. The launch customer was Swiss operator Crossair, and none other than Pope John Paul II was on the first passenger flight. Saab made 459 units of the type before ending production in 1999.
One of the aircraft’s largest customers was American Eagle, a regional branch of American Airlines. The airline ordered as many as 50 Saab 340s in 1989, with options for the same amount. It ended up operating a total of 143 of the turboprop. However, the carrier began phasing its Saab 340s fairly early on, waving goodbye to its last of the type in 2008.
Today, 26 Saab 340s are still listed as active in the US. According to data from ch-aviation, these are spread out over eight operators. Some are scheduled passenger airlines, whereas others specialize in other areas such as high-resolution mapping priority freight services. Let’s take a closer look at who they are.
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Nine out of the 26 planes belong to IBC Airways. The on-demand airline is headquartered close to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and officially still has 11 of the type in its fleet. However, two are listed as inactive. The remaining nine are made up of eight of the freighter version of the S340A and one freighter S340B.
Together, the aircraft have an average age of well over 30 years, with some dating back to Crossair operations in the late 1980s. Apart from the Saab 340s, IBC also operates two Embraer E145 with a capacity for 60 passengers.
Six belong to Castle Aviation. The cargo and private charter passenger airline is based in Akron, Ohio. The aircraft make up Castle Aviation’s entire fleet and have an average age of just over 30 years. All previously served with American Eagle. The latest addition to the fleet arrived in March 2021 from folded Alaskan regional airline PenAir.
Regular passenger traffic in Florida
Another Sunshine State operator called Silver Airways has three active S340s. They are all of the S340B Plus variant – of which Silver Airways has historically operated as many as 23, plus two still in the fleet that are no longer active. The three aircraft still flying are just over 23 years old combined. Silver Airways also operates ATR turboprops and flies scheduled passenger services from its bases in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Orlando. Its S340s come from Mesaba Airlines by way of Delta Connection.
Two S340s are operational with regional and family-owned carrier Ryan Air Alaska. Another two remain with boutique travel agency Legends Airways in Colorado. One is flying for a company called RAM Air Services, and one is with charter operator Legacy Airways. Two are in the service of Airborne Imaging – a company that specializes in high-resolution aerial mapping images.
When was the last time you flew on a Saab 340? Leave a comment below and share your memory with us.