15. Beechcraft 1900
Largest Operators: Great Lakes Airlines, United Express, Air Canada Express
While increasingly rare, the Beechcraft 1900 is still a workhorse of many small regional routes. It seats just 19 people and will carry those people up to 600 miles.
14. Saab 340
Largest Operators: United Express, Seaborne Airlines, Air Åland, Japan Air Commuter
Another once-popular turbo-prop that is being systematically phased out. These 30-seat Swedish planes haven’t been made since 1998. The youngest Saab 340 is older than the Backstreet Boys’ classic love song I Want It That Way.
13. Embraer ERJ-135/140/145
Largest Operators: American Eagle, Delta Connection, US Airways Express, United Express, Air France Régional
The ERJ-145 line of planes are a common sight at airports around the world, but the planes, which carry 40 or so passengers, are pretty small and lack headroom.
12. Fokker 70
Largest Operators: KLM, Austrian Airlines
The Fokker 70 had a short life of production making them one of today’s rarest regional planes. Few remain and none of those are based in North America. The Fokker 70s, with about 80 seats, were no longer made after 1997 when the Dutch manufacturer, Fokker, went bankrupt.
11. Bombardier CRJ700/900
Largest Operators: US Airways Express, United Express, American Eagle, Lufthansa, Delta Connection
The 700 series CRJ are basically the same plane as the 200 series CRJ except there are a few more seats.
10. Bombardier CRJ100/200
Largest Operators: US Airways Express, United Express, Delta Connection, American Eagle, Air Canada Express
With about 50 seats, Canada’s CRJ200-series jets are pretty versatile aircraft. They are particularly popular for short routes in the Northeast.
9. ATR 42
Largest Operators: Aeromar, Czech Airlines, United Express
The Italian/French made ATR 42 is a very popular short range cargo plane. It’s been manufactured since 1985 and the factory in Toulouse continues to crank them out. Nevertheless, the ATR 42 is a pretty rare sight these days over the skies of North America if they aren’t flying for FedEx.
8. Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia
Largest Operators: United Express, Air Turks and Caicos, Great Lakes Airlines
One of the smallest planes still actively used within American commercial aviation, this turbo-prop seats 30 people. Brazilian airplane manufacturer Embraer stopped making them back in 2001 (Excepting special orders). They also look pretty cool.
7. Bombardier Dash 8 Q-100/200/300
Largest Operators: Air Canada Express, US Airways Express, Air New Zealand Link, United Express
The Dash 8 is arguably the most common line of turbo-prop commercial aircraft taking to the skies today. Carrying about 30-50 passengers, the Q-100, 200 and 300 are great craft to take you from your big city life to that small town upstate (or upprovince) where you grew up.
6. Bombardier Dash 8 Q-400
Largest Operators: United Express, Flybe, Air Canada Express, Horizon Air, Porter Airlines
The Dash 8 Q-400 is little more than a longer version of the original 100, so it seats more people. It’s a nice plane that can be used both for regional transit as well as smaller/shorter routes if the need exists.
5. Fokker 100
Largest Operators: Austrian Airlines, Air Niugini, Avianca Brazil, Montenegro Airlines
Much like the Fokker 70, the 100 stopped being produced when Dutch manufacturer went under in the late 90s. The Fokker 100 is the rarer version of the two, seating about 100 people.
4. Embraer 170/175
Largest Operators: US Airways Express, American Eagle, United Express, Delta Connection, LOT Polish Airlines
Arguably the most ubiquitous regional aircraft in the United States, the Embraer 170 and 175 models have about 80 seats. They are all pretty new too — the line first took to the skies commercially in 2004.
3. Boeing 717
Largest Operators: AirTran Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Delta Airlines, QantasLink
The direct descendant of the DC-9, this is the most prominent commuter-sized plane from the United States. Boeing’s 717 seats about 100 passengers and is a popular option for use on smaller mainline routes.
2. Embraer 190
Largest Operators: jetBlue, Air Canada, KLM, US Airways
Over the past decade or so, Brazil’s Embraer has established itself as the go-to regional jet, and the Embraer 190, with about 100 seats, is the best of the lot. Small enough to use on shorter routes, but large enough to still be pretty comfortable.
1. Cessna 402
Largest Operator: Cape Air
The Cessna 402, which seats up to 10 and was manufactured between 1966 and 1985 is the greatest commuter plane. It makes flying an adventure again.