The Royal Australian Air Force has successfully flown the final flight into East Antarctica in a series of proof-of-concept flights in support of the Australian Antarctic Division.
Since November 2015 the C-17A Globemaster III has touched down in Antarctica at Wilkins Aerodrome five times, delivering cargo in support of the Australian Antarctic programme.
Director General Air Operations Air Commodore Joe Iervasi, said the flights had been a huge success.
“I am proud of the crews that have been involved in this collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Division,” Air Commodore Iervasi said.
“Royal Australian Air Force successfully moved over 109 tonnes of machinery and cargo both in and out of Antarctica, conducted an air drop of four heliboxes from 500 feet and simulated an emergency aeromedical evacuation.
“The opportunity to test the C-17A in these conditions has proven to be an invaluable experience for the Royal Australian Air Force to enhance the capability of this aircraft and Australia’s logistical and scientific capabilities in Antarctica.”
Australian Antarctic Division Director Nick Gales said the five proof-of-concept flights had demonstrated their ability to improve the logistic and scientific capability of Australia’s Antarctic programme.
“The collaboration between the Australian Antarctic Division and the Royal Australian Air Force has showcased and further developed the specialist skills of both organisations, with tangible benefits to Australia’s Antarctic programme,” Dr Gales said.
“We were able to deliver a range of critical equipment to and from Antarctica on the C-17A, including a 23-tonne tractor flown from Wilkins to Hobart for repairs with a turnaround of just over two months, compared to two years via ship.
“Another piece of machinery was taken south just four weeks after it returned to Australia for repairs on the Aurora Australis.
“That the flights to and from Wilkins Aerodrome flew return from Hobart Airport further demonstrates Tasmania’s status as a leading gateway to Antarctica.”
Results from the series of flights will now be considered by the AAD and the Australian Defence Force.
There are no future commitments by either AAD or RAAF to undertake future flights.