For Horizon Air Capt. Perry Solmonson, saying goodbye to the Q400 is bittersweet. The turboprop aircraft has played a pivotal role in his career since he joined the airline in 1989.
Solmonson says his favorite part of flying the Q400 comes from his role as a check pilot – an experienced pilot who evaluates and certifies the knowledge and skills of other pilots.
“Over the years, I witnessed so many extraordinary pilots who truly have the ‘touch’ with this airplane,” said Solmonson. “Horizon has some amazing aviators here. It’s a privilege to serve in an organization that attracts and retains such gifted pilots, a legacy I know we’re continuing on the E175.”
The Embraer 175 jet or E175 is now the sole aircraft flown at Horizon Air, Alaska Airlines’ long time regional airline sister company, as we continue to modernize our fleet. The last commercial flight of the Q400 was on Jan. 26 between Spokane and Seattle – exactly 22 years after its first revenue flight for Horizon on Jan. 26, 2001.
“We’re at a unique moment in time,” said Joe Sprague, president of Horizon Air. “With our shift to a single fleet of E175 jets, we’re laying a major new cornerstone of the foundation for our future.”
Flying two smaller fleets of aircraft wasn’t sustainable or cost effective for Horizon. Two of everything was required: parts, tools, training programs and more. Aside from pilots, every workgroup needed to know two aircraft types. Moving to one fleet type allows us to better focus all of our resources, which is important during a time of unprecedented pilot attrition throughout the regional airline industry.
The E175 jet is efficient and much quieter than the turboprop, plus it flies faster. It’s well suited for small and developing markets in our network across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.