SKY Express Flies Epic Six Hour Journey With ATR Turboprop

Greek carrier SKY Express has really put the ATR 72-600 through its paces, flying it nonstop from Athens, Greece to Dublin, Ireland. The trip took six hours and five minutes, covering more than 1,700 miles in a single hop.

SKY EXpress ATR 72-600
Photo: Athens Airport

ATR 72 flies six hours nonstop

How long is too long on a turboprop? Most would say a couple of hours is a comfortable maximum, maybe pushing to three on a modern iteration. Fast-growing Greek airline SKY Express pushed the boundaries of turboprop capabilities yesterday, undertaking a nonstop flight from Athens to Dublin with the aircraft in flight for more than six hours!

The ATR 72 took off from Athens at 06:20 local time yesterday. Climbing to an altitude of 24,000 feet and setting a speed of 250 knots, the turboprop headed north west across Europe. After six hours and five minutes, the ATR touched down in Dublin, concluding its 2,877 km (1,788 mile) mega flight.

SKY EXpress ATR 72-600

SX-ELV is a 0.2-year-old ATR 72-600, delivered new to SKY Express in July this year. It is unknown why the aircraft was heading to Dublin, but the airline has confirmed this was not a commercial flight. While the published range of the ATR 72-600 is only 1,404 km (873 miles), this is with maximum passengers onboard. As the plane was likely flying empty save for the crew, this would have extended the range enough to make this mammoth trip.

SKY EXpress ATR 72-600
The airline will have a fleet of six ATR 72-600s by the end of the year. Photo: ATR

Long turboprop trips

Simple Flying previously reviewed the longest scheduled routes by turboprops, and found the longest bookable route was Air Tahiti’s 1,028-mile services from Tahiti to Totegegie, which uses the ATR 72-600 also. However, flights without any passengers onboard have been known to go much further.

A pair of ATR 72s being delivered to IndiGo earlier this year made a three-stop-hop from Toulouse to New Delhi. The longest nonstop segment was Toulouse to Heraklion, a distance of 1,207 nautical miles.

SKY Express Flies Epic Six Hour Journey With ATR Turboprop
The Delhi delivery flight made several stops on route. Photo: GCMap

But the longest flight by an ATR 72 that we’ve heard of to date came as a result of an eight-segment trip by a Virgin Australia turboprop, flying all the way to the UK this July. Several segments were over six hours in length, with the longest all being Brisbane to Darwin with a flight time of six hours and 51 minutes.

Fleet renewal

The ATR 72-600 is a new type for SKY Express and is part of a major fleet refresh for the growing carrier. In July this year, it signed up for six of the versatile ATR 72-600s, with all six set to join the fleet before the end of this year. You can watch the airline’s first ATR getting its livery below:

As well as the ATRs, SKY Express is renewing its short-haul fleet with the addition of eight brand new A320neos. The first arrived in November last year, and to date, the airline has taken delivery of six of the type. Data from ch-aviation suggests that the remaining two could be arriving within the coming weeks.

The airline is just 16 years old and has strong ambitions for growth. With the addition of these young aircraft, it will operate the youngest fleet in Greece. With a fleet of 19 aircraft, the airline is already quadruple the size it was 10 years ago, and with more aircraft joining before the year is out, the sky really is the limit for this bold regional carrier.