Air brand-new Zealand is to plan a demonstration flight to Antarctica next month. The airline will fly one of its Boeing 767-300s from Auckland to an ice runway near McMurdo station as component of a proving trip to identify the feasibility of making use of the jumbo jet to paris scientists and also other support personnel to the chilly continent.

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A U.S. Air pressure C-17 native Joint basic Lewis-McChord on the Pegasus ice cream runway in Antarctica. Photo: U.S. Wait Force/Staff Sgt. Robert TingleA U.S. Air pressure C-17 native Joint basic Lewis-McChord top top the Pegasus ice runway in Antarctica. Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Robert Tingle - via Flickr

Air brand-new Zealand is to plan a demonstration trip to Antarctica following month. The airline will certainly fly among its Boeing 767-300s indigenous Auckland to an ice runway close to McMurdo station as component of a proving trip to determine the feasibility of making use of the jumbo jet to fly scientists and other assistance personnel come the it will be cold continent. Both brand-new Zealand and the unified States maintain year-around research study stations that would certainly be offered by the flights.

Flying to Antarctica is no unusual. Currently, the U.S. Air Force and Royal brand-new Zealand Air force operate regular flights from brand-new Zealand to the Pegasus ice runway near McMurdo. Many other nations additionally operate flights come their particular stations. The workhorse that the Antarctic path from new Zealand is the Boeing C-17. However over the years the USAF has flown Lockheed C-141s and also the huge C-5 Galaxy. Ski-equipped C-130 Hercules proceed to fly to and from the driest continent on earth, and also domestic flights to remote research study stations. Airliners are additionally used because that flying civilization to the most southern continent. The Royal new Zealand wait Force right now uses a Boeing 757 for part flights, and also Australia's Antarctic program provides an Airbus A319.

Each year an ext than 2,000 researchers make the about 2,700 mile trip between brand-new Zealand and Antarctica. Making use of the Boeing 767 would certainly offer more seats over the armed forces transports (more comfortable as well), and a longer range than various other airliners right now used.

"This will certainly fundamentally adjust our ability on the ice," new Zealand's international affairs minister Murray McCully stated in a statement. He also points the end that it could simplify the process, "Unlike the RZNAF 757s which at this time fly to Antarctica, the Air brand-new Zealand 767 deserve to make a return pilgrimage without refueling."

Jet fuel is an extremely expensive to carry to Antarctica and is lugged in through ship throughout the warmer summer months when the sea ice deserve to be damaged by ice breakers. Carrying just 200 passenger or so, the Boeing 767-300 would have a variety of well over 6,000 miles, making it possible to fly back to brand-new Zealand without having actually to include fuel in Antarctica.

The Pegasus ice runway is located on the Ross ice Shelf close to McMurdoo terminal (which has actually an austral summer population of more than 1,000). The U.S. Likewise maintains runways at surrounding Williams "Willy" ar that are located on much less stable sea ice and also are limited to ski-equipped plane such as the C-130s and also deHavilland pair Otters.

Air brand-new Zealand's demonstration trip is booked for October 5, and if all goes fine the airline is supposed to operate two an ext chartered flights come "the ice" later throughout the summer. The 767 requires no transforms or special devices to make the flight to Antarctica. The Pegasus ice runway — ominously named after a four engine Lockheed Constellation that crashed adjacent in 1970 — is kept with heavy tools that grooms the flat and also prepares the surface to carry out some grip because that the airplane's tires.

Temperatures throughout the spring and also summer month -- between October and also February, when most flights to Antarctica are made -- space usually no worse than winter temperatures in areas like Alaska, Canada and also northern Europe, and most of the time the weather is lot better. Summertime high can also climb over freezing.

Air new Zealand provided to run a non-stop tourist flight to the frozen continent in the 1970s that would certainly take turn off in new Zealand and provide low altitude website seeing because that passengers, before landing ago in brand-new Zealand roughly 11 hours later. In 1979, a navigational error because of a critical minute data readjust that to be loaded into the airplane's onboard computer system resulted in the Douglas DC-10 crashing right into Mt. Erebus, a 12,448 foot volcano the rises above the Ross ice Shelf. All 257 passengers and crew were killed in the crash.

Today, advanced navigation steps are accessible to pilots, and USAF C-17 pilots have even made landings in complete darkness utilizing night vision goggles (previously barrels of burn fuel were provided to note the runway in the dark).

If approved for the charter flights, Air brand-new Zealand will certainly fly scientists and also support personnel because that both brand-new Zealand and also U.S. Antarctic programs. But don't mean to take it a tourist trip anytime soon.

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