Icelandair is sending one of its Boeing 767 aircraft to Antarctica. Before flying down to Troll Research Station on the Earth’s southernmost continent, the aircraft will stop in Cape Town, South Africa. It comes weeks after Lufthansa’s longest flight yet to get German researchers to the South Pole.
The pandemic has prompted some pretty wild flights, with aircraft being seen at many locations where they would not usually fly. Some flights have been for repatriations, some for cargo, and some to avoid a stopover elsewhere. It even led to the record for the longest domestic flight being broken, just to be broken again. Earlier in February, Lufthansa flew to the Falkland Islands to get German researchers to Antarctica on a boat.
Reykjavik to Cape Town to Antarctica
To fly to the Antarctic, Icelandair is using one of its Boeing 767 aircraft. However, flying from the edge of the Arctic Circle to the bottom of the world isn’t going to take place on one fuel tank. According to One Mile At A Time, the aircraft is first flying to Cape Town, South Africa. This flight will take the aircraft around 7,100 miles.
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Upon arrival in Cape Town, the aircraft will pick up a team of Norwegian researchers. From there, it will continue down to Troll Research Station, an ice runway in Antarctica. Guðmundur Egill tweeted that the aircraft has six pilots, 13 flight attendants, and one mechanic.
According to data from RadarBox.com, Icelandair is completing the mission with TF-ISN. The aircraft is a 20-year-old Boeing 767-300ER. While the aircraft wasn’t used in March or April at the height of the pandemic, it has been flown every month since, averaging 95 hours of flight per month over the past year.
Before the mission, the aircraft’s last flight was on February 16th, when it operated an Amsterdam rotation.
Not Icelandair’s first time in Antarctica
This trip down south actually won’t be the first time that Icelandair has flown to the Antarctic. In 2015, the airline became the first to land a commercial jet on the icy continent. According to Lonely Planet, the flight took place on November 26th to prove that commercial aircraft could land on an ice runway.
The aircraft back then was a Boeing 757. Facilitated by Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions, the aircraft was fitted with 62 business class seats. It flew from Chile to Union Glacier, a flight that takes around four and a half hours.
While Icelandair’s flights are rare, Antarctica regularly hosts an Airbus A319 belonging to the Australian Antarctic Program. Qantas also operates charter sightseeing flights over the continent. Australia is looking to build a new paved runway on the continent.
What do you make of Icelandair’s long trek down south? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!