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In a first, Airbus A340 plane lands on ice runway in Antarctica

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The 190-tonne Airbus A340 successfully landed on an ice runway in Antarctica.

ANTARCTICA: For the first time in history, a commercial Airbus plane made a successful landing on the white continent of Antarctica. One of the company’s A340 planes touched down on an ice runway earlier this month, paving the way for more tourism on the frozen landmass. The A340 took off on the morning of November 2 from Cape Town, South Africa before flying 2,500 nautical miles (4,630 km) to Antarctica. It then achieved an aviation first by successfully landing on a runway made of “blue glacial ice”, according to the aircraft’s pilot, Captain Carlos Mirpuri.

CNN reported that the historic flight was operated by Hi Fly, a boutique aviation company, and was chartered by Wolf’s Gang luxury adventure camp. The aircraft will be used this season to fly a small number of tourists, alongside scientists and cargo to the icy continent.

There was “attention and anxiety” in the cockpit as the 190-tonne plane approached the runway in Antarctica. Captain Mirpuri detailed how the runway had to have special grooves carved into it to allow for more friction as the aircraft landed, which would have otherwise slipped down the icy course due to its heavy supply cargo.

The pilots also had to wear special eye gear due to the glare coming off the polar ice.

“The blending of the runway with the surrounding terrain and the immense white desert around, makes height judgment challenging, to say the least,” the captain said.

There is still no actual airport in Antarctica. The icy abyss only has 50 landing strips and runways and pilots have to gauge and make allowances for a multitude of factors — from slippery surfaces to weight of the aircraft — while landing. – ANI

Monday, November 29, 2021 – 01:00

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