The charter airline flies from Cape Town to Antarctica with an Airbus A340. The model had never landed there before. A hi-fly captain describes the challenge.
It was a premiere: on November 2, 2021, an Airbus A340 landed in Antarctica for the first time. The machine with the registration number 9H-SOL belongs to the Portuguese charter company Hi Fly and came from Cape Town. She has served the route several times since then. And now the airline is showing pictures and reporting details for the first time.
The aircraft is an A340-313 HGW (High Gross Weight) that can take off with a maximum take-off weight of 275 tons. The machine has 77 tons of kerosene on board because it cannot refuel in the Antarctic. The four-jet engine transports a small number of tourists, researchers and cargo for charter customers.
Contact by portable radio
The distance is 2500 nautical miles or 4630 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 make braking easier.
Captain Carlos Mirpuri, who belongs to the Hi-Fly owner family Mirpuri, carried out the first round himself. Radio contact was made about 180 miles from the destination, reports Mirpuri. “This is not an air traffic control, but a person who is equipped with a portable radio and monitors the runway.”
Cold affects the altimeter
“The reflection is enormous,” says the captain about 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 contact from around 20 miles away.” One would also have to take into account that the altimeters also suffer from temperature errors in cold weather.
In the picture gallery above you can see photos of Hi Flys A340 in Antarctica.
In the video, the airline shows how the journey works: