Falcon 900EX for Antarctic service

 - May 15, 2008, 6:14 AM

Australia-based Skytraders has been selected to fly between Australia and Antarctica and for internal Antarctic flights, starting late next year, for the Australian government’s Antarctic division.

It will operate a 16-passenger Falcon 900EX for the flight between Hobart, the capital of the southern island state of Tasmania, and a hard glacier ice runway to be built next summer at Casey base in Antarctica. About 26 flights will be flown to the base each summer season.

Two ski-equipped Casa C-212s will be used for internal flights to Davis, Mawson and other remote field stations. These aircraft have the capability to fly nonstop from Hobart to Casey and return. Local weather forecast for each flight will be expected to hold for six hours, and if there is any significant weather change during flight, the aircraft can return to Australia.

Other possible operators of the aircraft during the Australian and southern hemisphere winter months are being sought to offset costs. The aircraft may also be used for surveillance to detect illegal fishing in southern waters.

The Sydney-based company won the contract over eight other considered operators, many of which were planning to use Lockheed Martin Hercules transports.

Helitech, the Australasian Bell representative, submitted a proposal using the Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey for the long leg to Antarctica, with a fuel stop at the remote Macquarie Island, and with Bell/Agusta BA609 civil tiltrotors for internal Antarctic flights. It argued using tiltrotors would avoid the cost and environmental damage associated with building an airport at Casey.