Lufthansa is preparing to operate a 15-hour charter flight from Hamburg to Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands on February 1st. The mammoth 13,700 kilometers (7397 nautical miles) journey will be undertaken by one of the airline’s Airbus A350s, which it says is its most sustainable aircraft.
Since the start of the pandemic, aircraft have been seen on some weird and wonderful routes. Recently Frankfurt welcomed a couple of Qantas’ Boeing 787s on a repatriation mission. Meanwhile, another German A350, belonging to the government, recently flew the other way, completing the world’s longest A350 flight at 19 hours and 13 minutes. Lufthansa is aiming slightly lower with its one-off service.
15 hours to the Falkland Islands
Lufthansa is planning to fly an Airbus A350 from Hamburg to the Falkland Islands. However, this flight won’t just be any long flight. It will be the longest flight that Lufthansa has carried out since it began operations 66 years ago.
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Flight LH 2574 will depart from Hamburg on February 1st with 92 passengers onboard. Half will be scientists working on the upcoming expedition on the Polarstern research vessel. The other half will be the ship’s crew working on the trip. Of course, as the flight is taking place in the context of the pandemic, extra precautions are being taken.
Flying during a pandemic
The Falkland Islands are virtually COVID-free, with the average number of cases during a seven day period never surpassing one since the start of the pandemic. The aim is to keep things this way. As such, Captain Rolf Uzat and his 17 colleagues working on the flight have already been in 14-day quarantine in Germany since last Saturday, as have the flight’s passengers.
Over 600 of Lufthansa’s cabin crew applied to work on the historic flight. The team also includes maintenance and handling personnel to deal with anything unforeseen that may crop up.
In addition to the special covid related measures, the crew has also undergone additional preparation for the flight. This included practicing the landing, training with special electronic maps for the flight, and carefully planning fuel requirements in co-operation with Mount Pleasant military base.
The flight itself will be reasonably unremarkable other than its light load and length. The aircraft is currently being prepared in Munich. Upon arrival in Hamburg, it will be loaded with baggage that has already been disinfected and sealed. As there aren’t sufficient waste disposal options in the Falklands, the aircraft will have extra capacity for waste generated on the outbound flight to return to Germany.
The aircraft is planned to return to Germany on February 3rd. However, rather than returning to Hamburg, where it sets off, it will return to Lufthansa’s A350 base in Munich. The aircraft’s return flight will carry the crew currently on the Polarstern, who will be relieved.
Commenting on the mission, Thomas Jahn, Lufthansa’s Fleet Captain said,
“We are pleased to be able to support a polar research expedition during these difficult times… We have been active in this field for more than 25 years and have equipped selected aircraft with measuring instruments. Since then, scientists all around the world have been using the data collected during the voyage to make climate models more precise and improve weather forecasts.”
What do you make of Lufthansa’s epic 15-hour Falkland Island voyage? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!