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Air Force Boeing Completes Antarctica Trial Flight

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media Release
17 December 2009

Air Force Boeing Completes Antarctica Trial Flight

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Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 lands at Pegasus Airfield during a successful maiden trial flight to Antarctica.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 has completed a successful maiden trial flight to Antarctica.

The recently upgraded Boeing 757-200 left Christchurch on Wednesday 16 December at 11.30am, arriving at McMurdo Station just before 4.00pm New Zealand time.

After refuelling on the ice runway at Pegasus Airfield, McMurdo Station, the aircraft returned to Christchurch arriving around midnight.

Mission Commander, Squadron Leader Richard Beaton said the work done in the lead-up to the flight meant it had all gone smoothly.

“There was a lot of planning involved around the various operational, technical, and logistical issues before the flight could get underway.”

Air Component Commander, Air Commodore Steve Moore said the modernisation of the navigation system, as part of the Boeings’ recent upgrade, removed many of the limitations of the aircraft to operate into the high latitudes of McMurdo.

“With the upgraded Boeings we were able to look more closely at a trial flight to Antarctica.

“The aim of the flight was to look at the suitability of the B757 to carry passengers to McMurdo, and the availability and suitability of passenger handling facilities, ground support equipment, and engineering support equipment required in the event the aircraft requires any maintenance,” said Air Commodore Moore.

Currently, the New Zealand Defence Force operates around 12 C-130 Hercules flights to McMurdo Station each year during the Antarctic summer months between October and April

“Depending on the outcomes of the trial flight, it could be that the B757 would be a more efficient and effective way of transporting passengers than the C-130 Hercules or United States Air Force C-17, enabling these aircraft to be more effectively utilised to carry cargo.

“The next stage will be the post-trial flight analysis, so any further flights will still be quite some time away,” said Air Commodore Moore.

Background notes:

The Air Force’s two Boeing 757 200 aircraft are operated by No. 40 Squadron, RNZAF

Aircraft : Boeing 757-200
Manufacturer: Boeing (USA)
Power plant: 2 x Rolls Royce RB211535E4/4B turbofans
Length: 47.32m
Wingspan: 38.05m
Height: 13.56m
Basic weight: 57,180kgs
Gross weight: 115,680kgs
Max payload: 22,460 kgs
Max fuel: 43,490L
Range: 4000 nm (7400 km)
Cruising speed: Mach 0.8 (850km/h at 10,675m)


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