Norse Atlantic Airways has lived up to its billing as ‘The Explorer’s Airline’ – by landing a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Antarctica.
The airline claims that this is a world first – ‘a groundbreaking milestone in aviation history’.
With Antarctica lacking conventional paved runways, the aircraft instead landed on a glacial ‘blue ice runway’ 3,000 metres (9,842ft) long and 60 metres (196ft) wide at Troll Airfield, where the average temperature is -25C. It’s the largest aircraft ever to land at this airstrip.
On board the plane, called Everglades, were 45 passengers, including scientists from the Norwegian Polar Institute and other countries.
They were destined for different stations in Antarctica, including the Norwegian Polar Institute’s Troll research station.
Norse Atlantic Airways has lived up to its billing as ‘The Explorer’s Airline’ – by landing a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Antarctica
The flight also transported 12 tons of essential research equipment crucial for Antarctic exploration.
The Dreamliner, contracted by the Norwegian Polar Institute and air broker firm Aircontact, began its journey in Oslo on November 13, stopping in Cape Town before embarking on the ‘challenging’ Antarctic leg.
The 787 touched down at 2am local time on Wednesday at Troll Airfield, located in Jutulsessen in Queen Maud Land.
The airstrip, operated by the Norwegian Polar Institute, lies 6.8 kilometres (4.2 miles) from the Troll research station, around 235km (146 miles) from the coast.
Ice-olated: With Antarctica lacking conventional paved runways, the aircraft instead landed on a glacial ‘blue ice runway’ 3,000 metres (9,842ft) long and 60 metres (196ft) wide at Troll Airfield
The challenge for pilots landing at Troll Airfield is that there is no radio navigation system to guide the aircraft – and no structures on the airfield to help gauge speed and orientation.
Bjørn Tore Larsen, CEO of Norse Atlantic Airways, expressed immense pride in the achievement.
He said: ‘In the spirit of exploration, we are proud to have a hand in this important and unique mission. It is a true testament to our highly trained and skilled pilots and crew, and our state-of-the-art Boeing aircraft.’
Camilla Brekke, Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, said: ‘The most crucial aspect is the environmental gain we can achieve by using large and modern aircraft of this type for Troll.
‘This can help reduce overall emissions and the environmental footprint in Antarctica.’
She added: ‘Landing such a large aircraft opens up entirely new possibilities for logistics at Troll, which will also contribute to strengthening Norwegian research in Antarctica.’
The Dreamliner, contracted by the Norwegian Polar Institute and air broker firm Aircontact, began its journey in Oslo on November 13, stopping in Cape Town before embarking on the ‘challenging’ Antarctic leg
The Dreamliner, with its ‘impressive’ cargo capacity, ‘excels at meeting the demands of this mission’, said Boeing’s Paul Erlandsson
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 refuelling.
‘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 metres 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.’