Hi Fly operates a historic first-ever flight of Airbus A340 to Antarctica

In the Airbus four-engine aircraft family history, Airbus A340 becomes the first plane to land in Antarctica. Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly projected the historic first-ever flight of A340 on an ice runway in Antarctica covering 2500 nautical miles (4300 kilometers) in just over five hours. The plane A340-313HGW registration 9H-SOL flew from Cape Town in South Africa to the White Continent and returned after its successful flight.

Captain Carlos Mirpuri, who is also the vice-president of Hi Fly, and his crew departed in Cape Town at 8 am local time on November 2, taking 5 hours 10 minutes on the way down to WFR (Wolf’s Fang Runway, Antarctica) and 5 hours 20 minutes on the return. Never before has any airline operated the Airbus A340 jet to Antarctica.  Hi Fly, a boutique aviation company, will operate the jet to transport a modest number of tourists alongside scientists and essential cargo there this season.

Wolf’s Fang-the newest luxury adventure camp on the world’s southernmost continent projected by the White Desert, commissioned the plane that carried a staff for the resort on board as well as some cargo. Most of the ground service equipment was stored in A340’s cargo compartment. The very first flight landed on Antarctica blue glacial ice runway with limited support on the ground. The turnaround time in WFR was planned to be 3 hours but took less than it with impeccable efforts of Flight Operations, Ground Operations, and Maintenance.

Story of Captain Carlos Mirpuri regarding historic flight

Hi Fly’s Airbus A340 was pushed back from the Cape Town Airport gate at exactly 8 am local time and became airborne at 8:19 am. Carrying 77 tons of fuel, the plane cruised to Johannesburg oceanic through CPDLC/ADS once CPT air traffic control issued instrument departure procedure clearance. The weather was fine, easing the dispatch requirements. The plane began descent after a green signal in the runway friction report as frictions exceeded what was considered as a minimum.

Blue glacial ice runway stands 3000 meters long, 60m wide, and its depth measure 1,4km of hard air-free ice, with surrounding terrain blended with runway to make height judgment challenging. Blue glacial ice generates tremendous reflection that requires proper eyewear. The 1000 ft. runway has groove carvings and uses the specially-equipped car to cover the length of the strip, measuring every 500 meters to figure out how icy the track is.

Spotting runway alignment, lack of visual glide slope guidance, airfield carved out of blue glacial ice, and weather all create challenges for aircraft to deliver successfully in the White Continent. However, Hi Fly’s team conducted the uneventful takeoff and return flight on the Airbus A340 plane and will launch repeatable flight operations to and from the White Continent this season.

First record flight to the White Continent

History was written when Lockheed Vega 1 monoplane piloted by George Hubert Wilkins commenced the first record flight from Deception Island in the South Shetland Islands to Antarctica in 1928. William Randolph Hearst, American elite, funded the project for the first exploratory flight over Antarctica.

Two days before the landing of the A340 plane in Antarctica, Captain Antonios Efthymiou has performed a visit to WFR on a business jet carrying scientists to C category airport. The blue-ice runway at Wolf’s Fang demands a highly specialized crew to operate takeoff and landings due to challenging conditions. Antarctica doesn’t have any airports except 50 landing strips and runways. Between 2019 and 2020, a half-dozen test flights have been organized to fly on the coldest continent on the Earth by the Russian Antarctic research station using widebody aircraft as well.

The successful conquer of Antarctica by A340 has opened up the door for more likely landings in the future and a significant leap in Antarctica explorations. Australia is hoping to construct a new concrete runway to create breakthroughs in Antarctic aviation.

About Hi Fly

Hi Fly is a fully-licensed and certified airline specializing in widebody aircraft wet lease. It operates a large fleet with several models of Airbus family such as A320, A330, and A340 to fly to every country in the world. The Portuguese charter airline was founded in 2006 and has two AOCs based in Malta and Portugal.

Airbus A340 as an ideal plane for Antarctica

Airbus A340 is a long-range, reliable, and ideal plane for conquering White Continent as it functions well in Antarctica’s severe climate without slight change in its robust performance and safety features. It is powered by four engines and suits remote operations.

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