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NSF Cooperating with NZ in Search for Downed Plane

NSF Cooperating with NZ in Search for Downed Plane in Antarctica

24 January 2013

A Twin Otter aircraft at NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in a 2006 photograph.
Credit: Photograph by: Spencer Klein, NSF

Officials with the US Antarctic Program are cooperating with their New Zealand and Italian counterparts, as well as the Rescue Coordination Centre in Wellington, in a search-and-rescue effort to locate a propeller-driven aircraft believed to have crashed in a remote and mountainous part of Antarctica.

A three-person crew is believed to have been aboard the de Havilland Twin Otter when contact was lost with the plane in the early morning hours of January 23 [New Zealand time]. The nationalities of the crew are unconfirmed at this point.

The missing plane was flying in support of the Italian Antarctic Program under the logistical responsibility of the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), and was en route from NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station to the Italian research station at Terra Nova Bay when contact was lost with the aircraft in a remote region of the Transantarctic Mountains.

The aircraft is owned and operated by Kenn Borek Air Ltd, a Canadian firm headquartered in Calgary that charters aircraft to the US programme.

Communications between US officials at McMurdo Station in Antarctica and the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre confirmed that an emergency locator beacon had been activated.

Officials are monitoring conditions at the site, where the weather is currently very poor, to decide when to launch a search of the area and what kind of aircraft to use.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) manages the US Antarctic Program through which it coordinates all US scientific research on the southernmost continent and in the surrounding Southern Ocean as well as providing the necessary logistical support for the science.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, its budget is $7.0 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards nearly $420 million in professional and service contracts yearly.


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