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White plane on a white background: Hi Fly's Airbus A340 on a mission to Antarctica

White plane on a white background: Hi Fly’s Airbus A340 on a mission to Antarctica

The charter airline flies from Cape Town to Antarctica with an Airbus A340. The model had never landed there before. The pilot describes the challenge.

The premiere was: On November 2, 2021, an Airbus A340 touched down in Antarctica for the first time. The machine with registration number 9H-SOL belongs to the Portuguese charter company Hi Fly and comes from Cape Town. I’ve served the road a few times since then. And now the airline is showing pictures and detail reports for the first time.

The A340-313 HGW (High Gross Weight) aircraft can take off with a maximum take-off of 275 tons. The machine has 77 tons of kerosene on board because it can’t refuel in the Antarctic. The four-jet engine transports a small number of tourists, researchers and cargo for charter customers.

Communication by mobile radio

The distance is 2500 nautical miles or 4,630 kilometers. The slope at Wolf’s Fang Runway WFR is 3000 meters long and is located on 1400 meters thick ice. Special devices are used to cut grooves in the runway to facilitate the braking process.

Captain Carlos Mirbury, who belongs to the Mirbury family that owns Hi-Fly, carried out the first round himself. The radio was made 180 miles from the destination, according to Mirbury. “This isn’t air traffic control, it’s someone equipped with a portable radio and monitoring the runway.”

Cold affects the altimeter

“The reversal is massive,” says the captain of the approach to Antarctica. “It’s not easy to see the runway, but at some point we need to see it because there are no navigational aids in WFR and we have to have visual communication from about 20 miles away.” One must also take into account that altimeters also suffer from temperature errors in cold weather.

In the gallery above, you can see pictures of the Hi Flys A340 in Antarctica.

In the video, the airline shows how the flight is going: