Volga-Dnepr delivers equipment in Antarctica
Volga-Dnepr Airlines has completed its sixth Antarctic program operating five charter flights to the cold continent to deliver equipment for the DROMLAN international Antarctic project.
All the flights were operated from Cape Town, South Africa to the Novolazarevskaya runway in close cooperation with the Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI), covering a distance of over 4,200 kilometres and delivering over 200 tonnes of general cargo which was essential for the work of the research stations.
Volga-Dnepr organised five flights with IL-76TD-90VD freighters which the crew was able to land and take off from a glacial blue ice runway.
“We are proud to be part of the DROMLAN international Antarctic project this year. Despite the challenging times and COVID-19 restriction, we supported the program to Antarctic Research Stations, thus enabling the scientists to continue their research programs”, says Ekaterina Andreeva, commercial director for Volga-Dnepr Airlines.
The carrier works together with ALCI on the project, who creates the intercontinental air bridge between Cape Town and Novolazarevskaya station during the austral summer. “Each year we increase the number of certified crew members to guarantee smooth operations. For 2020/2021, we have had two trained and qualified crews and we hope that by the next season we will have more”, Andreeva says.
The Dronning Maud Land Air Network Project (DROMLAN) is a project between eleven countries to create a coordinated logistics service to Antarctica to reduce costs. The participating countries are Belgium, Finland, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The flights operate from Cape Town International Airport to Troll Airfield, from where feeder services to other research stations are operated.
150 charter flights
Volga-Dnepr has been part of the program since 2015 and, so far, carried out over 150 charter flights to and from Antarctica delivering over 1,700 tonnes of cargo. The company keeps ramping up its capabilities each year by introducing new routes and delivery options. For some Antarctic stations, the carrier has been organising ‘airlift-and-drop’ possibilities, which is more preferable for some types of cargo.
In 2020, Volga-Dnepr’s specialists developed its first-ever IL-76TD-90VD flights which crossed Antarctica on its way from South Africa to Chile. According to the company, the modernized 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 engine. Together, these advantages enable Volga-Dnepr to fly to this kind of remote and harsh locations.