Home South pole ice This Airbus A340 flew from Cape Town to Antarctica in a world first

This Airbus A340 flew from Cape Town to Antarctica in a world first



(Photo: Marc Bow / Hi Fly)

  • An Airbus A340 weighing 190 tonnes landed on the Antarctic runway carved out of blue glacial ice on November 2.
  • Little was known about the flight from Cape Town International Airport to the Wolf’s Fang runway in Antarctica.
  • But now a logbook detailing the record flight and landing has been released.
  • The plane is expected to carry scientists, cargo and tourists to the White Continent in the summer.
  • For more stories, visit www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

For the first time in history, an Airbus A340 successfully landed in Antarctica. The plane left Cape Town earlier in November and is expected to carry tourists to the White Continent over the coming summer season.

With a maximum take-off weight of 275 tonnes, the Airbus A340 is one of the heaviest aircraft to land on the Antarctic runway carved out of blue ice. The record-breaking flight, operated by Lisbon-based Hi Fly, which specializes in providing commercial aircraft for hire with crew, took place on November 2.

And although the A340-313HGW (High Gross Weight) 9H-SOL was retrieved from flight monitoring platforms earlier this month, with its flight path drawing attention, Hi Fly had not participated. to the operation, according to Simple Flying.

Flight to Antarctica

(Photo: Marc Bow / Hi Fly)

Flight tracking service RadarBox.com showed that 9H-SOL had made two flights from Cape Town to Antarctica, the first on November 1 and the second on November 4.

Hi Fly revealed the purpose of the flights on Monday, along with a log detailing the trip and the preparations needed to make the landing a success.

Flight to Antarctica

(Photo: Marc Bow / Hi Fly)

The inaugural flight took off from Cape Town International Airport at 8:00 a.m. with 23 passengers on board. “A beautiful morning in Cape Town and magnificent views,” noted Carlos Mirpuri, Hi Fly vice president and captain.

It took approximately 5 hours at 9AM-SOL to travel the 2,500 nautical miles – or 4,630 kilometers – to Wolf’s Fang Runway (WFR) in the North Antarctic region. The Wolf’s Fang runway is 3,000 meters long and 60 meters wide, with planes landing on hard, open ice about 1.4 kilometers deep.

Flight to Antarctica

(Photo: Marc Bow / Hi Fly)

“Carrying fuel to cover both directions means we would land at a maximum landing mass of 190 tonnes,” the captain’s log explained.

“Add the fact that we are operating on an airfield carved out of blue ice and it is easy to understand that the very first Airbus A340 landing there drew a lot of attention and anxiety.”

Flight to Antarctica

(Photo: Marc Bow / Hi Fly)

The reflection on the white Antarctic surface has been described as “huge” and requiring appropriate goggles to help the pilot adjust between the outside view and the instrumentation.

“It’s not easy to spot the track, but at some point we have to see it because there is absolutely no navigation aid in WFR and from about 20 miles. [32 kilometres] we need to be in eye contact.

Flight to Antarctica

(Photo: Marc Bow / Hi Fly)

The Airbus A340, carrying enough fuel to cover the round trip to Cape Town, landed at around 190 tonnes.

“We did a classic approach for a rough landing, and the aircraft performed exactly as expected. When we reached taxi speed, I could hear a round of applause from the cabin. We were happy. After all, we were making history, ”the captain’s diary noted.

Hi Fly did not reveal its Antarctic client, but explained that “the plane will be used this season to transport a small number of tourists, alongside scientists and essential cargo to the white continent.”

White Desert, which organizes luxury Antarctic tourist expeditions with a Gulfstream G550 jet, recently confirmed that it is looking to share an Airbus A340 with scientists and cargo.

White Desert offers one-day adventures – dubbed “The Biggest Day” – priced at $ 14,500 (almost R 230,000) to 8-day trips to the South Pole to see Emperor Penguins for $ 83,000 $ (1.3 million rand).

Its latest offering is a New Years Eve experience that allows travelers to spend the last day of 2021 – and the first day of 2022 – at one of White Desert’s luxury camps in Antarctica. It costs around $ 27,500 (R 433,000).

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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