N0 787 from Oslo to Cape Town on Monday 13 November 2023. After a layover of just over 40 hours, the flight continued to Troll Airfield, which serves the Norwegian Polar Institute in the Queen Maud Land region of Antarctica. The aircraft spent 4:21 on the ice before returning to Cape Town (and is in the air on that flight as these notes are being written).
The charter flight carried 45 passengers, including scientists from the Norwegian Polar Institute and other countries, destined for different stations in Antarctica for the southern summer, which begins just over a month from now. It also carried 12 tons of equipment, and tankered fuel for its return flight to Cape Town.
Although this is the first time that a Boeing 787 has visited Antarctica, Icelandair flew a Boeing 767 to Troll for charter flights in February 2021 and again in January 2022.
Regarding the 787, Paul Erlandsson, Field Service Representative from Boeing, commented:
"The 787 Dreamliner stands out for its exceptional fuel efficiency, enabling a round-trip flight from Cape Town to Antarctica without the need for refueling. This not only ensures swift turnarounds but also significantly benefits the environment by eliminating logistical complexities of transporting, storing, and handling fuel in Antarctica. Paired with the aircraft's impressive 150 cubic meters of cargo capacity distributed across three cargo holds, and a cargo loading system designed for easy handling of pallets and containers, the Dreamliner excels at meeting the demands of this mission."
The blue-ice runway, which was leveled using a laser cutter and is approximately 3,300 meters long and 100 meters wide, more often sees long-range transports like the Lockheed LC-130 and Ilyushin Il-76, as well as smaller turboprop aircraft which provide local connections to other points within Antarctica. (Other airliners in Antarctica include an Airbus A320 with regular service to Wilkins Aerodrome at Casey Station and at least one visit with an Airbus A340 to Wolf's Fang Runway.
Today's Featured Map illustrates the trip from Oslo to Cape Town and on to Antarctica, using an azimuthal equidistant projection centered on the South Pole. This projection shows the entire globe, with the antipode of the center (in this case the North Pole) splayed out around the circumference of the map. The distortion of points far from the center makes it a poor choice except for special cases such as this one.
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Karl L. Swartz.
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