An Airbus Corporate Jetliner is about to get the chance to prove the value of its certification for flights into known icing conditions as it begins shuttle flights into Antarctica. The aircraft will be operated under a five-year lease from CIT Aerospace by Sydney, Australia-based Skytraders and will carry scientific personnel and supplies on behalf of the Australian Government Antarctic Division.
The ACJ, powered by a pair of CFM International CFM56-5 engines, will fly between Hobart in Tasmania and Casey in Antarctica, landing on a “blue ice” runway (on which braking performance is similar to that on a wet runway). The aircraft will also have to contend with extremely low ground temperatures during turnarounds and will have to carry enough fuel to return to Hobart in the event that the weather is too bad to land at Casey’s Wilkins runway.
The new service will reduce the time it takes the scientists to travel to Antarctica from 10 days by ship to four hours. As part of the Australian Government Antarctic Air Service, the ACJ will make up to 20 round-trip flights during each Southern Hemisphere summer season of research, allowing the teams more time on the ice to conduct their experiments. The first flights will be made next month.
The ACJ will complement various helicopters and EADS Casa 212 twin turboprops that are currently used for shorter flights linking Australia’s various research stations in Antarctica. Some ships will still be used for crossing the Southern Ocean.