Smartwings this week landed one of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Antarctica. Registration OK-SWA touched town at Troll Research Station on November 11th after a multi-stop trip from Europe.
Across the globe
The low-cost Czech carrier first flew its 737 MAX to Antarctica in January this year. Notably, the airline was the first to deploy the model to the world’s largest desert, operating a charter service for Aircontact to transport members of the Norwegian Polar Institute. This flight was the third of such an endeavor for Smartwings. The crew safely carried researchers from Bremen, Germany, and Oslo, Over a period of two days.
Flight QS4196 initially left Bremen for Oslo at 10:51 on November 9th. The MAX 8 then left Oslo for Prague at 14:25 on the same day. The aircraft departed the Czech capital at 17:29 to head to N’Djamena, Chad. On November 10th, the flight departed for Cape Town at 00:41.
Finally, on November 11th, the flight left Cape Town at 11:28 to land at the Troll Research Station soon after 15:00. All times are local.
The twinjet landed back in Prague on November 13th and has already been deployed on regular operations to the likes of Malaga.
Troll Airfield is found 6.8 km (4.2 mi) from Troll along Princess Martha Coast, Queen Maud Land. A 3,000 m (9,842 ft) long glacial blue ice runway is located here, which requires plenty of work to maintain. The runway has to be constantly monitored and resurveyed in order to be utilized for air operations.
There is also plenty to consider from inside the aircraft. The crew consists of three specially trained pilots.
“It is necessary to prepare thoroughly for such a flight. The preparations took many months, and the flight and landing went smoothly,” – Smartwings captain and flight director Tomáš Nevole, following the initial January flight.
Smartwings follows fellow European carrier Hi Fly in recently returning to Antarctica. The Portuguese airline flew its Airbus A340 to the continent to transport scientists, supplies, and visitors.
Vital research is carried out by the Norwegian Polar Institute, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, and the Norwegian Institute for Air Research at Troll. However, it’s not only scientific personnel that is carried to the area. The likes of White Desert promote carbon-neutral tourist trips to Queen Maud Land, allowing a chance to see its plethora of natural wonders.
It’s now summer in Antarctica, meaning that the most popular time to visit is approaching amid the warmer weather and longer days. Those on the ground will be making most of their time there before returning ahead of the winter season.
What are your thoughts about Smartwings’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 operations to Antarctica? What do you make of the overall initiatives for services to the continent? Let us know what you think of the flights in the comment section.