In February this year, Smartwings became the first carrier to land a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Antarctica.
Tomorrow, Smartwings will fly to Antarctica, transporting polar explorers from Bremen and Oslo. This will be the Czech airline’s third flight for Norwegian and German polar explorers in 2022.
Smartwings Group spokesperson Vladimíra Dufková confirmed the departure to CEETransport.com. The aircraft will depart from Europe to Cape Town, stopping in N’Djamena, Chad for refueling. From Cape Town, it will head to Troll Airfield in Antarctica.
Most airlines have never landed on the 3,000-meter-long and 60-meter-wide ice-covered runway. The ice layer is measured and analyzed before flights. The surface is specially treated and the braking effect is measured in advance.
The airport was built in 2005 and is entirely on ice. The average temperature in the area is around 25 degrees Celsius below zero, in the summer the temperatures approach 0 °C. Landing at the airport is by visual approach without the aid of instruments.
No backup airport can be planned in place of Troll Airfield. All the necessary equipment is available, including adequate firefighting equipment and approach charts explicitly created for this airfield and flight. As this is an isolated airfield with no other landing options within range, obtaining an assessment and approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Czech Republic for the use of Troll Airfield was necessary. The captains had to undergo training to familiarize themselves with the area of operation and the airport. All crew members underwent Arctic survival training.
Edited and translated by Lucie Trávníčková