11 Februari 2010
New Zealand's B-757 (photo : RNZAF)
The New Zealand Air Force will be conducting a second trial flight of their B757 aircraft to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica on Wednesday. The return flight will take approximately 8 hours including a refuelling stop at the Pegasus Ice runway.
Air component commander, Air Commodore Steve Moore, said the recent modernisation of the aircraft navigation system had removed many limitations on operating into the high latitudes of McMurdo.
"The aim of the trial flights is to look at the suitability of the B757 to carry passengers to McMurdo, and the availability and suitability of passenger handling facilities, ground support equipment and engineering support equipment required in the event the aircraft requires any maintenance," Air Commodore Moore said.
Chief Executive of Antarctica New Zealand, Lou Sanson, said the New Zealand Defence Force has played a significant role in New Zealand's presence in Antarctica for over 50 years. "NZDF are integral to our communications, ship offload logistics and our air support contribution to the joint logistics pool that we share with the United States Antarctic Program and the Italian Antarctic Program.
They allow us to work more efficiently in what is considered one of the harshest environments on the planet. If the B757 trials are successful they will allow New Zealand to provide an efficient solution to the movement of personnel to and from the Ice," he said.
The New Zealand Air Force sends up to 12 Hercules cargo flights to McMurdo Station each year during the Antarctic summer season between September and February.