Antarctica is the only continent on Earth that has no permanent inhabitants and is quite difficult to get to. The vast majority of people and goods there are shipped mostly from the southern shores of South America and Africa.
It is also possible to fly by plane, although this venture is definitely more expensive. Air traffic in Antarctica is almost exclusively limited to selected transport planes or small turboprop machines.
You can find more about the White Continent at Gazeta.pl
They flew from South Africa to Antarctica on an Airbus A340
Now, for the first time in history, an A340 from the European Airbus consortium has landed in Antarctica. It is a large, four-engine long-range airliner that can take up to 340 passengers on board and fly a maximum of 15,700 km in the A340-500 version.
The flight was organized by the Portuguese airline Hi Fly, which specializes in chartering planes with the crew and full flight service. This time the flight was commissioned by White Desert, a tour operator organizing trips to Antarctica.
The plane took off from Cape Town (South Africa) airport on November 2 in the morning (but has only been informed about it now). Captain Carlos Mirpuri sat at the controls, and the flight to the White Continent took just over 5 hours. After covering over 4,300 km, the machine reached its destination and landed on the Wolf’s Fang Runway.
It is a 3 km long runway belonging to the White Desert, arranged on specially prepared blue ice, which, thanks to the grooves in the ice, ensures optimal friction force. As the pilot himself explains, the 3 km long ice strip is more than enough to slow down the great A340. At least on paper, because never before has a similar attempt been made with this plane.
The problem is the highly reflective surface of the belt, which made it necessary to pilot the machine in sunglasses. It is also difficult to spot the runway from a suitable distance, especially since the “airport” is not equipped with any systems to facilitate navigation. There is also a lack of reference points in the ice desert, which is why the visual assessment of altitude is very difficult and you need to rely only on the computer’s indications, which at low temperatures has problems with the correct calculation of altitude.
After spending just over two hours on the Wolf’s Fang Runway, the plane flew back to Cape Town. He delivered the necessary goods to Antarctica, including fuel, as well as 23 passengers – White Desert employees, researchers and tourists.
This is not the first civilian plane in Antarctica
As CNN reminds us, there is not a single airport on the White Continent. Currently, however, there are 50 designated ice runways. The plane first landed in Antarctica in 1928 (it was Lockheed Vega 1).
However, even today, flights with popular, civilian machines are rare. So far, only a few of them have reached the White Continent. As we read on the Simple Flying website, in the past, Boeing 767 by Titan Airways (6 test flights), Boeing 737 PrivatAir (commissioned by the Norwegian Polar Institute) or Airbus A319 chartered by the Australian government agency Australian Antarctic Division.