Israir’s Unbelievably Long Turboprop Flight

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Unless I’m missing something, Israir seems to be operating a scheduled flight that’s beyond the published range of an aircraft, which is kind of cool… I think?

Israir’s Tel Aviv to Kiev flight

Israir is a fairly small Israeli airline with just seven planes in its fleet, including four A320s and three ATR 72-500s. The airline operates domestic flights, as well as some international flights to countries in the region.

At the moment the airline seems to be operating an especially noteworthy flight. Israir flies from Tel Aviv to Kiev, a flight that covers a distance of 1,282 miles.

Interestingly, Israir is currently using an ATR 72-500 for this route. On July 16, an ATR 72-500 with the registration code 4X-ATI operated Israir flight 851 from Tel Aviv to Kiev, and the plane was in the air for 4hr49min. At least for the next week, the plane is scheduled to operate the route at least two more times, before an A320 takes over again.

What makes this so interesting?

Best I can tell, this is the longest scheduled commercial flight operated by this aircraft type. To take it a step further, the ATR 72-500 has a published range with a full load of 823 miles, which is more than a third shorter than the distance of this flight.

Now, the range of a plane can increase significantly with a light load, but just how light of a load are they expecting for this flight? On the first such flight with this plane, were there just a few passengers in both directions? And is the airline counting on these flights being empty over the coming days as well? Or what am I missing?

In August the flight is scheduled to once again be operated by an Airbus A320, at which point the “block time” for this flight will be reduced from 4hr55min to 3hr25min, so it takes an extra 90 minutes for this flight to be operated by a turboprop rather than a jet.

According to Wikipedia, the longest regularly scheduled ATR 72-500 flight is on Air Tahiti between Papeete and Totegegie, and that covers a distance of 1,028 miles, and is blocked at 4hr.

Bottom line

Israir is operating what I believe is the longest currently scheduled ATR 72 flight in the world, and possibly the longest scheduled passenger flight for the plane ever? Admittedly this is much more an avgeek story than something that has implications for many, but I find it to be pretty cool nonetheless.

Spending about five hours in a turboprop doesn’t sound too fun, though.

Arguably it’s still not as cool as Air Greenland’s eight hour turboprop flights a few months back, but then again those weren’t scheduled passenger flights.

(Tip of the hat to Sagi, featured image courtesy of Kwo)

  1. Cool is one thing, but how could the ATC, the carrier,… allow something like this to happen? Don’t they consider the safety when this ATR72 obviously exceeds its capacity? And the pilot should know better. Why would you want to put yourself and other passengers’ lives at risk?

  2. @T

    Israeli pilots are some of the best-trained in the world. Most of them are former Air Force. So I highly doubt they’re putting anyone at risk. In all likelihood there’s more to this story than we know, such as a variant with extended range, or a deliberately light load. The Israeli civil air authority would not allow a dangerous flight to occur.
    Should a problem arise, the flight path offers numerous diversion options, such as Cyprus, Turkey, and other countries with which Israel has good relations when it comes to air traffic. It’s not like the Air Tahiti situation where you’re just over open ocean.

  3. Maximum range of an ATR-72-500 with a full fuel load is around 1,600 NM. The range figure of 823 miles is with a full payload – which obviously would equate to much reduced fuel capacity as the aircraft is limited by maximum take off weight.
    The important figure when it comes to maximum range is the one with full fuel tanks, not full payload.
    This flight is well within (at 1,114 NM) the range of an ATR-72-500, obviously Israir are taking a hit with operating at far less than full payload but its likely more economical to operate this with say 20 passengers and a few kg of cargo than it is to operate it with an A320.
    Also people seem oddly confused about what ATC does.
    ATC is responsible only for the safe and efficient flow of air traffic – Ensuring aircraft do not collide in flight or on the ground and keeping traffic moving through the system. It does not get involved in matters involving the operation or dispatch of flights.

  4. This flight highlight the difficult times we are experiencing in the Israeli aviation and tourism in particular, duo to the covid-19 global crisis. all international flights to and from Israel dramatically decreased but demands for repatriations and cargo flights are relatively high and Israir Airline is currently the only Israeli airline that still operating and definitely the only Israeli company to challenge against the industry mega economical crises.

  5. the last time i checked their flight path from tlv to iev airport on fr24 iy was was even longer: they flew over western turkey and greek aegean islands, then over bulgarian and romanian coast. it seems they had to keep a distance from the closest airports for emergency a didn’t cross the black sea.

  6. @T
    Thats at MTOW, limit some/ block seats and you will make it.

    Similar thing occurs with the Delta flights doing EYW-ATL on the CRJ, they limit bags a lot when its hot. Its not about published range but how much payload you are willing to sacrifice to get there.

  7. I imagine the Kiev-Tel Aviv flight would have been busy pre pandemic in part due to immigrants making Alyah to Israel.

  8. Also I wonder how they handle Crimea? I thought usually airlines that fly to the Ukraine avoid airspace over Crimea. Flying from Israel, it shouldn’t be that much of an issue, but given that this flight might already be beyond it’s range, they don’t have so many options to divert?

  9. @ Phil
    Busy because people move to Israel and spend the rest of their life flying back “home” to catch up and visit their origin friends and family.

  10. Interesting. Is there any type of ETOPS type rating for prop aircraft with flights of this length required?

  11. Hey Ben (You haven’t done your home work before publishing). A quick check with all Canadian air carriers operating the ATR72 showed max range with FULL payload of 70 pax anywhere between 1600km to a whooping 4032km…which btw is a whole 8 hrs of nonstop flying…so TLV to KBP with a mere 1400kms is quite normal and not much to muss about. You can actually fly the same Turboprop from Montreal to Keflavic Iceland or from Halifax to London noooonstop it’s all within range.

  12. Anyone can write anything on Wikipedia. I could increase the range of the ATR by 1000 nm simply by writing that it was so. If I had a friend to help, we could outvote anyone that discovered it.

    I know this because once I discovered an intentional error in an obscure physics topic and was threatened to stay away. Wikedpedia is wacky. I think they wanted high school and college students to get their homework wrong.

    I once tested it by inserting a fact I made up for a biography of someone in the news. Someone took it out and it was reinserted by someone else. Wacky.

  13. Israeli media picked up on this story today. Apparently, Israir also flew the ATR from TLV to Milan as well which is even longer at 2,709KM (1,683 miles).

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