Travel Industry News at TravelNewsAsia.com since 1997
Wed, 24 November 2021

Hi Fly Airbus A340-313HGW Makes History with Antarctica Flight

(24 Nov 2021)  Hi Fly has made history by landing an Airbus A340 in Antarctica for the first time.

Never before has an A340 landed on an Antarctic blue glacial ice runway.

The aircraft will be used this season to fly a small number of tourists, alongside scientists and essential cargo to the White Continent.

The Hi Fly 9H-SOL is an A340-313HGW (High Gross Weight) with a maximum take-off weight of 275 tons. Its exceptional range and 4-engine redundancy makes it ideal for this type of remote operation.

Also, as there is no fuel in Wolf's Fang Runway, Antarctica, the plane carried 77 tons of fuel.

Hi Fly has made history by landing an Airbus A340 in Antarctica for the first time. Picture by Marc Bow. Click to enlarge.
Hi Fly has made history by landing an Airbus A340 in Antarctica for the first time. Picture by Marc Bow

Captain Carlos Mirpuri, Hi Fly Vice President, and his crew flew the widebody aircraft, from Cape Town to the White Continent and back. The journey is 2,500 nautical miles, flying for just over five hours each way.

As his Captain's log is an adventure in itself, we have published it in full:

"Captains Log - Hi Fly 801 and 802 - 2 November 2021

The crew assembled and departed the hotel in Cape Town at 5 am local. Transportation took 30 minutes to CPT airport. Processing through the airport took another 30 minutes and we arrived at the aircraft at 6 am, with two hours left to our STD (Scheduled Time of Departure).

Engineers and Ground Operations staff had left the hotel an hour earlier, so when we arrived at the aircraft refueling was completed and cargo loading was underway. We expected 23 passengers, all staff from the customer, and as this was the first flight of the season, most of the ground support equipment that we would need in WFR (Wolf's Fang Runway, Antarctica) was actually in our cargo compartments. The first two sorties are solely for the purpose of setting up the operation down in Antarctica, ahead of the 2021/2022 summer season.

The 2500 nm between CPT and WFR would take us 5h10m on the way down, and 5h20m on the return. As this was the very first flight, with limited support on the ground, we planned for a 3h turnaround time in WFR.

It would be a long day for the crew but the excitement of participating in such a unique event stood above anything else.

As always we start with a crew briefing on arriving at the aircraft. This is not just another flight, there are specificities related to this very remote operation we would be conducting, the harsh environment we would face, and the need to ensure proper protective clothing would be on board.

While cabin checks and catering loading was undergoing, me and my crew were inspecting the aircraft, checking its systems, loading the route into the navigation computers, and briefing the details of our departure.

Passengers arrived 20 minutes before STD. It was exactly 8 am local time when we pushed back from the gate. On-time. Every time. This is the Motto at Hi Fly.

We lined up on runway 01 but had to pause for a moment before launching; I spotted intense bird activity over the runway and asked the tower to roll the truck in charge of scaring them out, at eventually they moved out of the way. The last thing we want is a bird strike and potential engine damage on any flight. At 8:19 am we were finally airborne. A beautiful morning in Cape Town and magnificent views.

There is no fuel in WFR. We carried 77 tons of fuel. 9H-SOL is an A340-313HGW (High Gross Weight) with a maximum take-off weight of 275 tons.

It is an airplane that delivers, every time. Robust, comfortable and safe, performs well in this environment.

Its 4 engines redundancy and very long range, make it the ideal airplane for this type of mission.

The route to WFR was almost direct, after complying with the instrument departure procedure clearance issued by CPT air traffic control. Soon we were handed over to Johannesburg oceanic through CPDLC / ADS, avoiding therefore the tiring and noisy long range HF communication that dates back to the 50s. Digital communication is the norm these days in most air navigation regions. We only lost data link connection 250 miles before WFR. But at around 180 miles from destination we could reach WFR via VHF. It is not an air traffic control, just a person that has a hand held portable radio that looks after the runway. And indeed they look very well for its condition.

South of 65 degrees we revert to polar navigation techniques, and use True heading as reference.

Also a plotting chart is used to ensure we are not drifting off course. During the route we receive via ACARS (another digital system of communication), frequent weather reports from WFR passed to us through our operations in Lisbon. The guys at WFR have an Iridium Satphone, the only means to communicate from that part of the Globe. Forecasters do a great job, and we only launch to Antarctica when the weather meets our dispatch requirements. But a forecast is a forecast, and when you fly to the end of the world you need frequent assurance that the actual weather meets the forecast.

Weather was looking great, and closing to the top of our descent they are also supposed to pass us runway friction reports. This is measured by a car properly equipped, that covers the length of the runway taking measurements every 500 meters. The frictions were also all above what we considered as minimum, so we started our descent.

Carrying fuel to cover both ways means we would be landing at maximum landing weight of 190 tons. Add the fact that we are operating to an airfield carved out of blue glacial ice and one easily understands that the first ever Airbus A340 landing there attracted a lot of attention and anxiety. But we at the front office were confident that we had done our homework properly.

Our operations department conducted a several months preparation of this flight and the success of our first landing is testimony to a job well done.

Even a visit to WFR, on a business jet carrying scientists, was performed 2 days before our flight, by captain Antonios Efthymiou. This is considered a C category airport, and except for this first flight, all crew will have observed a flight from the cockpit before they operate.

A blue glacial ice runway is hard. It can stand a heavy airplane on it. Its depth is 1,4 kms of hard air free ice. The next important thing is that the cooler it is the better. Grooving is carved along the runway by special equipment, and after cleaning and carving we get an adequate braking coefficient; the runway being 3000 meters long, landing and stopping an A340 that heavy of that airfield wouldnt be a problem. At least not on paper, as never an A340 landed before in blue glacial ice.

The reflection is tremendous, and proper eyewear helps you adjust your eyes between the outside view and the instrumentation. The non-flying pilot has an important role in making the usual plus extra callouts, especially in the late stages of the approach.

It is not easy to spot the runway, but at one point we have to see it, as absolutely no navigation aids exist in WFR and from around 20 miles we must be in visual contact.

We finally spotted the runway alignment, and started configuring early, selecting flaps and landing gear to be fully stabilized 10 miles before the runway. There is also no visual glide slope guidance, and the blending of the runway with the surrounding terrain and the immense white desert around, makes height judgment challenging, to say the least.

The altimeters in cold weather also suffer from temperature errors, and need adjustments. All this was accounted for. We flew a textbook approach to an eventful landing, and aircraft performed exactly as planned. When we reached taxi speed I could hear a round of applause from the cabin. We were joyful. After all we were writing history.

The turnaround time was much less time than the planned 3 hours. Our Flight Ops and ground ops did an impeccable job and so did our engineers. A true winning team. Equipped for extreme cold we venture outside, greeted people, seen details and places of the runway for a better confidence in the system put in place. All looks good to launch repeatable operations to and from Antarctica.

Take off was uneventful, as so was the returning flight. Customer was happy, we were happy. All goals for this first flight had been met. The event was registered by our reporter Marc Bow." END of Captain's log.

Headlines: IHG to Take Over Hotel in Novena, Singapore  Virgin Australia Signs Expanded Agreement with Sabre  Dorsett to Take Over Property in Singapore; Roy Liang Appointed GM  Airbus Extends Production of ACH130 Aston Martin Edition  Falcon 6X Ready for Global 40-Stop, 150-Hour Proving Campaign  Yiannis Kosmas Appointed GM of Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort in Mozambique  Creative Studio for ACJ TwoTwenty Opens in Toulouse, France  ATR Helping Indonesia to Implement Performance Based Navigation  Changi Airport to Reopen T2 on 29 May  IHG Signs Kimpton Hotel in Hua Hin, Thailand  Marriott Signs 1,049-Room All-Inclusive Autograph Collection Resort in Cancun, Mexico  Qantas Partners Zip to Offer Fly Now, Pay Later  Dassault Begins Production of Falcon 10X  Andrea Orrú Appointed GM of Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara in Oman  Embraer Partners 4AIR to Offer Complimentary Carbon Offsetting  Fiji Men and New Zealand Women Win France Sevens in Toulouse  Anantara Resort to Open on Koh Yao Yai, Thailand  United Opens 30,000 sqft Club Lounge at Newark Liberty Int. Airport  Jon Cannon Appointed GM of Mövenpick Hotel Sukhumvit 15 Bangkok  IAG Orders 50 Boeing 737-8-200s and 737-10s  Mathieu Hellec Appointed GM of Anantara Maia Seychelles Villas  Airbus Selects Honeywell's New FMS for Future A320, A330 and A350 Aircraft  China Airlines Publishes Second TCFD Report  Fiji to Host Pacific Nations Cup 2022 in July  Google Cloud, AI, NDC and More - Airline Retailing Interview with Darren Rickey, Sabre  Mandarin Oriental to Open Second Luxury Hotel in London, England  Supersports Laguna Phuket Marathon 2022 to Take Place 11-12 June  Langham Appoints Sherona Shng as Regional Vice President Operations - Asia  ATR Unveils Vision of Future Regional Turboprop Aircraft  Maren Kuehl Appointed GM of Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar in Oman  United Airlines Applies to Launch Washington - Cape Town Flights  China Airlines Launches New Protective Kit for Passengers  Marriott Partners Yahoo to Launch Media Network  Plaza Premium Opens Lounge at Edinburgh Airport in Scotland  Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways Expand Codeshare Agreement  Sabre's Initiatives to Retain and Attract Top Talent  Yotel Gets Creative with Dual-Branded Property in Miami  Rosewood Signs Second Residential Project in Florida  Air France Unveils New Business Class Seat  Saab Appoints Viktor Wallström as SVP and Head of Group Communications  Accor Opens First of Two Mövenpick Hotels in New Zealand  Marriott Signs Adults-Only, All-Inclusive Luxury Resort in Dominican Republic  Sabre Recognized as System Provider in IATA’s Airline Retailing Maturity Index  Hong Kong Airport Reports 109.4% Increase in Passengers; Cargo Down Slightly  Fiji Airways Upgrades Technology with Amadeus’ Digital Experience Suite  Cebu Pacific Reports Q1 2022 Results  Burberry Reopens Qatar Duty Free Outlet at HIA  Four Seasons Kyoto Appoints Director of F&B, Culinary Operations  Jumeirah Opens Luxury Resort in Bali, Indonesia  Marriott Opens First AC Hotel in Australia  Star Alliance to Launch Co-Branded Regional Credit Card; Enable Paid Access to Lounges  Cathay Pacific Reports Increase in Cargo and Passenger Traffic  Fly Dhaka Partners AirAsia Consulting  Int. Travel Forecast to Fully Recover by 2025; Asia Pacific Lagging  CWT Appoints Interim CFO and Chief Partnership Officer  Host Countries of Next Five Rugby World Cups Confirmed  Langham Gold Coast to Open in June  SIA Appoints Leslie Thng as CEO of Scoot  Virgin Limited Edition to Open 28-Room Luxury Hotel in Mallorca  Pitak 'Chin' Norathepkitti Appointed GM of Anantara Chiang Mai Resort  ITA Airways Takes Delivery of First Airbus A350  Singapore Airlines Extends Sponsorship of Formula 1 Grand Prix  All Nippon Airways Joins airasia SuperApp's OTA Platform  Air Astana Celebrates 20th Anniversary of First Commercial Flight  Accor to Convert QE2 Cruise Ship into Floating MGallery Hotel  Lufthansa Orders 16 Boeing Cargo and Passenger Aircraft  Sabre Completes Acquisition of Nuvola  NAC to Become Launch Lessor of Embraer’s P2F Conversions  Qatar’s Hamad Int. Airport Reports 162% Increase in Passengers  Grand Hyatt Kuwait to Celebrate Grand Opening in Autumn  JAC Takes Delivery of 9th ATR 42-600  Etihad Unveils New Economy Class Furnishings and Tableware  Marriott Signs Second JW Hotel in Japan  Jetstar to Launch Canberra Flights from Melbourne and Gold Coast  Four Seasons Signs Luxury Hotel and Residences in Muscat, Oman  Airbus Establishes Air Mobility Initiative in Bavaria  Qantas Launches Promotion on 1,700+ Points Planes  Etihad Completes Sustainable Flight Tests Operating 42 EcoFlights Over 5 Days  Embraer Concludes Series of Experimental Flights in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  Swiss-Belhotel Aiming to Double Portfolio by 2030  Four Seasons Partners Bryte to Bring AI Technology to Sleep Experience  The Slate Phuket Becomes Dog-Friendly; Charges 1,500 Baht Per Dog, Per Night  Lee Kelly to Join 45 Park Lane in London as GM  China Airlines Participates in SkyTeam's Sustainable Flight Challenge  Boeing to Establish Research & Technology Hub; Names Arlington Office as Global HQ  Emirates to Showcase Premium Economy Class Cabin at Arabian Travel Market 2022  It’s a Penalty Publishes Impact Report from Super Bowl LVI Campaign  EGNOS V3 to Enhance Navigation and Security for More Destinations in Europe  Qantas Unveils Plan to Buy Alliance Aviation Services  Mapping Travel's New Normal - Sabre Study Highlights Prominent Shifts  Aviation: International RPKs Increase 285.3%  Emirates Celebrates Museum of the Future with Custom A380 Livery  Thai Airways Resumes Bali Flights; Launches Chatbot  China Airlines Operates Songshan - Tokyo Haneda Flights with A321neo  Cebu Pacific Resumes Jet Operations at Bicol Int. Airport  SHVO, Rosewood and Peter Marino to Renovate The Raleigh, Miami Beach  Growing Challenges for Air Cargo as Demand Falls  Pullman Cairns Appoints Mark Burns as General Manager  Accelya Establishes Center of Excellence in Pune, India  IHG Appoints Danny Ha as Development Representative - Korea  Emirates Resumes Flights to Bali, Indonesia  Yotel Signs WTC Hotel in Lisbon, Portugal  Travel Industry Interview with Kurt Ekert, President of Sabre  HD Videos and Interviews  Podcasts from HD Video Interviews  RSS Feed - Travel Industry News  Ticker - Travel Industry News  Travel Industry News Archives  Travel Trade Shows  High-Res Picture Galleries  Travel News Asia - Latest Travel Industry News 

Subscribe to our Travel Industry News RSS Feed Travel Industry News RSS Feed from TravelNewsAsia.com. To do that in Outlook, right-click the RSS Feeds folder, select Add a New RSS Feed, enter the URL of our RSS Feed which is: https://www.travelnewsasia.com/travelnews.xml and click Add. The feed can also be used to add the headlines to your website or channel via a customisable applet. Have questions? Please read our Travel News FAQ. Thank you.

     
Advertising
Advertising
Copyright © 1997-2022 TravelNewsAsia.com