MIAMI – Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly (5K) has made aviation history by landing an Airbus A340 in Antarctica for the first time.
According to an airline press release announcing the feat, Captain Carlos Mirpuri and his crew flew the widebody plane from Cape Town to the White Continent and returned, covering 2,500 nautical miles in just over five hours.
An A340 has never before landed on an Antarctic blue glacial ice runway. This season, the plane will transport a modest number of tourists to the White Continent, as well as scientists and vital cargo.
Hi Fly’s Airbus A340
The A340-313HGW (High Gross Weight) Hi Fly 9H-SOL aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 275 tons. The type was deliberately picked by 5K to function well in Antarctica’s severe climate since it is highly reliable, comfortable, and has a great safety record.
Its long-range and four-engine redundancy also made it suited for this type of remote operation.
The turnaround in Antarctica was completed in less than three hours, thanks to the faultless performance by Flight Operations, Ground Operations, and Maintenance.
Capt Mirpuri says that the flight to WFR was practically direct, after complying with CPT air traffic control’s instrument departure procedure clearance.
The flight crew was soon turned over to Johannesburg Oceanic via CPDLC / ADS, avoiding the exhausting and noisy long-range HF transmission that had been in use since the 1950s.
In most air navigation regions, digital communication is now the standard. Only 250 kilometers before WFR, the 5K A340 crew lost its data connectivity connection. However, they were able to contact WFR through VHF when they were about 180 miles from their destination.
It is not an air traffic controller, but rather a person with a hand-held radio, the Capt recalls, who is in charge of the runway, which was in good condition. You can read the complete Captain’s Log here.
Featured image: Hi Fly Lands First Ever Airbus A340 In Antarctica – A340 9H-SOL. Photo: Hi Fly