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MEBA2012: History made as Boeing 737 becomes the Polar Express

Posted 11 December 2012 · Add Comment

Charter operators are used to being asked to fly to some odd and out-of-the-way places but even Swiss-based PrivatAir (chalet A7) raised an eyebrow with a request from the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI).

PrivatAirAnd acceptance of the mission took them into new territories.

Following a great deal of planning and approval from the Swiss regulatory authority, a Boeing 737 successfully landed in Antarctica for the very first time.

The PrivatAir-operated flight departed from Cape Town on a six-hour journey to the Troll Research Station, located in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica.

Run by the NPI, the station is dedicated to environmental and climate monitoring, scientific research and mapping, and welcomes a number of scientists and researchers during the summer season.

The aim of the project, commissioned by the NPIin collaboration with Aircontact, a Norwegian air charter broker, was to prove that a commercial airline can operate such a service to industry safety standards, whilst improving efficiency and minimising environmental impact.

“PrivatAir has a long history of undertaking operational and technical challenges. We are proud that we were successful in organising and operating a flight (up to the international commercial aviation standards) to one of the most remote and hostile places on Earth,” said CEO Greg Thomas.

Such a mission required a great deal of planning, not least in preparation for landing on the 3,000 metre blue glacial ice runway, for which the pilots trained in a flight simulator.

Dennis Kaer, the captain, worked on the project for more than a year. “The preparation that went into this flight was immense,” he said. “You have to look at every aspect, consider all scenarios and prepare meticulously for each and every one. There can be no simple assumptions.”
The aim now for 2013 is to make this a regular scheduled service.

 

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