The Airbus A340 landed in Antarctica for the first time

A team of researchers achieved its first aviation on November 2, landing an Airbus A340 in Antarctica for the first time. It was also the first time the A340 had landed on blue glacial ice, said the expedition’s pilot, Captain Carlos Mirpuri in his captain’s diary.

The flagship flight was organized by Hi Fly, a Portuguese boutique aviation company for which Captain Mirpuri is also acting vice president.

Landing of Antarctic Airbus A340 attracts “attention and concern”

The A340 took off on the morning of November 2 at 8 am local time in Cape Town, South Africa, before flying 2,500 nautical miles (4,630 km) to Antarctica and then back. Each of these flights took a little over five hours, and the crew spent less than three hours the southernmost continent themselves, which means they may have returned home in time for a late dinner.

It goes without saying that Antarctica is an insidious place for pilots. The ice continent is home to only 50 lanes and no airports, which means pilots must take into account the slippery conditions and weight of their aircraft when landing on ice.

As Mirpuri pointed out, the A340 weighed a significant 190 tons when it reached its destination, which meant it had understandable “attention and anxiety” when it was close to landing on a track made of blue glacial ice. However, Mirpuri also said he and his team are confident that “he had done [their] homework “and that despite its weight, the A340 “reservation of four engines and very long range, make it the perfect aircraft” for their mission. You can watch footage from the daring expedition below.

Tourism in the polar regions may be about to start developing

The airliner is hired by a luxury adventure camp called Wolf’s Fang, organized by the Antarctic travel company White Desert. The aim was to deliver the supplies to a very remote place. In his captain’s diary, Mirpuri explained how the runway should have special grooves carved into it to allow more friction when landing the plane, which would otherwise slide on the ice runway due to its heavy load.

The ice landing strip was specially prepared for the Airbus A340 before landing. Source: Hi, Fly

Pilots also had to wear special eye equipment due to glare coming out of the ice on landing. “Mixing the track with the surrounding terrain and the huge white desert around makes the assessment of the height, to put it mildly, challenging,” Mirpuri explained. Fortunately, Mirpuri and the rest of the A340 crew managed to land safely and it took them less than three hours to deliver all the cargo to the wolf gang.

Following the historic flight, the same A340 will be used to fly several selected tourists and scientists, along with cargo deliveries, to a remote location in Antarctica. Along with space tourism, led by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, other wild luxury trips such as deep-sea private underwater walks and trips to the polar regions began to develop. In September, for example, a Swedish airline called OceanSky Cruises announced it would take tourists to the North Pole aboard a luxury airship.

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