Proof-of-concept deep-field air drop a success

Drums of aviation fuel with parachutes are deployed from the back of a C17 aircraft.
Forty drums of aviation fuel were successfully deployed to the Bunger Hills in support of science. (Photo: Justin Hallock)

A Royal Australian Air Force C17-A Globemaster undertook the first proof-of-concept deep-field airdrop of more than 8000 litres of aviation fuel, at the Bunger Hills, in support of science in December 2016.

The plane dropped 40 drums of fuel, each with their own parachute, at the remote location, 455 km west of Casey, for research investigating the contribution of the East Antarctic ice sheet to sea level rise.

Traditionally fuel has been flown into the field using helicopters or ski-equipped aircraft. However it takes a suitable weather window and numerous flights over several days to move the same amount of fuel as delivered by the C17-A in a single mission.

“Supporting deep field science projects with fuel, equipment and rations is often our biggest challenge, so proving this concept is a major capability step for science supported by the Australian Antarctic Program,” said Australian Antarctic Division Operations Manager Robb Clifton.