Photo: Captain Garry Studd, Skytraders pilot
Airbus ACJ319 flew Australian scientists to Antarctica to facilitate research.
After a four and a half hour flight from Australia, the ACJ319 touchdown at 4:30am on the 18 January 2008, while the midnight sun sparkles off the runway.
It was the first time a commercial airliner has ever flown to Antarctica.
This pioneering moment marked the beginning of a regular route from Hobart to Wilkins Aerodrome that Skytraders still serves to this day, carrying scientists quickly and safely to their research field.
But what’s it like to land on a runway made of ice, in one of the most hostile environments on earth?
According to Studd, the greatest challenge is lateral control and handling the aircraft on the ground, especially in strong winds.
He adds that “one of the biggest dangers is the lack of surface definition in the landscape, making it hard to judge how far away things are, and how high you are above them.”
But the ACJ Antarctica flights have occurred without incident, re-defining best practice in cold climate aviation.
“The ACJ319 has more than demonstrated its versatility and reliability in operations to one of the most hostile places on Earth,” Captain Studd concludes.