In an Aug. 18 letter, the writer made the following statements supporting the lengthening of the Hilton Head Island runway:
Any suggestion that we will still have turboprops operating in the future is wishful thinking. Airlines are phasing out these aircraft in favor of mid-sized jets that are more economical.
Both of these statements fly in the face of facts. As reported in Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal in recent weeks, sales of short take-off and landing turboprops are breaking records. Sales of turboprops have been almost double that of regional jets over the past five years. The reason is that on short cycle routes -- flights of 300 miles or less -- the 70- to 80-seat Q400 turboprop is about 50 percent more fuel efficient and about as fast as regional jets over that distance. And these planes can safely operate at runway lengths below 5,000 feet.
It is interesting that proponents of extending the runway to 5,400 feet put forward the myth that this will allow regional jets to serve the island. There is no regional jet that can safely operate on a 5,400-foot runway. Whatever the runway length we end up with, we will be reliant on turboprops for many years to come. Maybe we should spend our money buying a couple of Q400s for US Airways instead of using it to add unnecessary length to the runway.
Chris J. Garmston
Hilton Head Island