By Alexa Heah, 26 Nov 2021
The White Continent still doesn’t have a designated airport.
In a world first, an Airbus A340 has reached Antarctica. The mission, undertaken by aviation firm Hi Fly, took off from Cape Town, South Africa before touching down on the planet’s southernmost continent for the first time ever.
According to CNN, the aircraft was commissioned by Wolf’s Fang, a luxury adventure camp by tourism company White Desert, to bring much-needed supplies to the rural resort.
Each leg of the flight took about five and a half hours, covering a distance of 2,500 nautical miles in total. The crew spent just under three hours on Antarctica’s icy runway, which is designated as a C Level airport — meaning only highly specialized crew are allowed to fly there due to the tricky conditions.
“Grooving is carved along the runway by special equipment, and after cleaning and carving we get an adequate braking coefficient; the runway being 3,000 meters long, landing and stopping an A340 that heavy on that airfield wouldn’t be a problem,” Captain Carlos Mirpuri wrote in his log.
The most difficult part of landing in such harsh conditions is the blue ice, which although is a spectacular sight, reflects a lot of light back into the pilot’s eyes. This causes a glare that could disrupt the captain’s field of vision while landing.[…]