The Airbus flew 120 Italian, French, Korean, German and New Zealand expeditioners to Mario Zucchelli Station last week.
Operations Manager Robb Clifton said the Airbus usually flies to Australia’s glacial ice runway at Wilkins Aerodrome each season, but had not landed on the sea-ice near Mario Zucchelli Station before.
“Hobart is becoming a really important gateway to East Antarctica, it’s really exciting that we are able to support the Italians and other Antarctic nations to get their people south to start their summer scientific research programs,” Clifton said.
For the plane to land, the sea ice had to be two-metres-thick and levelled.
Prior to the flight, Skytraders Chief Pilot, Captain Garry Studd said that for a smooth landing, “the conditions on the ground need to be perfect”.
The Antarctic Division later reported that the weather and runway were perfect for the touchdown, with “blue sky and light winds”.
The return flight from Hobart to the West Antarctic Station is 7300 kilometres and 11 hours long.
Director of ENEA-UTA, the organisation running the Italian Program, Vincenzo Cincotti, said it’s great to be able to use the Australian Airbus to get to their station.
“The cooperation between Antarctic Programs is very important for all of us on the icy continent and we really appreciate that this season the Australians are able to help us get south,” Cincotti said.
The Italian program usually flies to Antarctica on a contracted Hercules L100 from New Zealand.
Australia’s Airbus will make four more flights to Mario Zucchelli Station in the next few weeks.
The Station consists of a collection of blue buildings with orange trim.
It was established in 1986 and operates summer-only.