Volga-Dnepr Airlines first-ever ‘season’ of cargo flights to Antarctica transported over 190 tonnes of cargo to support the new DROMLAN international Antarctic project supported by nations including Belgium, Germany, Finland, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
On behalf of the project, run by the Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI), Volga-Dnepr completed 12 return flights using its IL-76TD-90VD freighter. The flights commenced on 4 November last year and connected Cape Town with the Novolazarevskaya Antarctic Research Station, a distance of some 4,200 kilometres.
Volga-Dnepr delivered 125 tonnes of general cargo to the Antarctic airfield and carried a further 64 tonnes from the ‘ice continent’. The shipments were for the implementation of research and logistics programmes in Antarctica and included an inland delivery of 34 tonnes from Novolazarevskaya Station to the central regions of the continent.
DROMLAN was created to reduce the expenditures of the project’s participants in the Antarctic region. ALCI arranges intercontinental flights from Cape Town to the ice airfields of Queen Maud Land and inland flights using aircraft with ski-and-wheel systems. It also provides radio communications and weather monitoring for flight operations as well as food and accommodation for expedition participants.
The Russian Antarctic expedition helped to launch the DROMLAN project and every year it prepares and maintains the runway near Novolazarevskaya Station, also providing the delivery of aviation fuel to the airfield.
“We have successfully completed our first series of IL-76TD-90VD flights to Antarctica,” said Georgy Sokolov, sales director of Volga-Dnepr UK. The next series of flights will start in November because of the polar night environment and difficult weather conditions.
“We did a great deal of work before we could commence commercial deliveries, including pre-flight tests in Ulyanovsk, a series of ‘ice runs’ in Antarctica to check the performance and thrust reverser application procedures, and to obtain an addendum to the IL-76TD-90VD airplane flight manual to enable it to operate to ice airfields and transport up to 90 people onboard. We thank our partners and customers for their excellent collaboration with us and we look forward to our next series of flights to Antarctica!”
The ‘ice run’ flights onboard the IL-76TD-90VD aircraft were performed by a joint crew comprising of test pilots from Russia’s State Research Institute of Civil Aviation (GosNII GA), Ilyushin Design Bureau, and technical personnel from Volga-Dnepr Airlines.
The modernised IL-76TD-90VD aircraft provides a series of advantages in terms of its flying distance capability, payload weight capacity, hermetical cargo hold, and its fuel efficient and environment-friendly engines. This enables Volga-Dnepr to successfully complete cargo missions in any remote regions with difficult weather conditions. Volga-Dnepr obtained special approval from Ilyushin Design Bureau to be able to provide a service to Antarctica for ‘passengers’ who accompany cargo by fitting removable seats into the cargo hold as required.