Construction and maintenance equipment
For Wilkins Ice Runway in Antarctica
Bulldozer: For breaking up and pushing large volumes of compacted snow. This is largely for managing the 'berms' that accumulate at the sides of the runway as a result of snow-clearing activities. 'Berms' must be kept as flat as possible so as not to present an obstacle to aircraft. The dozer will also be used to pull a heavy roller during initial snow compaction and will be fitted with a snow blade and ripper and is the only equipment with the traction needed.
Roller: One of two specifically made for this project – the first was sent south two years ago. They are required to tamp down or compress the snow to a density to support aircraft. Several passes over the snow are needed to produce the right firmness.
Two snow blowers: Used to remove snow from the runway after winter or a blizzard. The two machines are different – one is intended only for use on the runway while the other is carried by the loader and can be used on different terrain such as the 'berms'.
Loader: Large-wheeled vehicle that can be fitted with a number of attachments, including a snow blower. It is a multi-purpose machine that assists in moving snow, towing a plane or grader and lifting weights for the roller.
Rubber-tracked tractor: Used to tow planes, graders and rollers on the runway after initial pavement rolling has taken place. The dozer and roller are not suitable for use on the snow pavement as it nears completion as they will rip the surface where the tractor will not cause damage. The tractor will also be used on a weekly basis for resupply activities towing a 20-tonne sled between Wilkins and Casey which is around 60 kms away on the coast.
Towed grader: A light grader with an upturned blade allowing removal of bumps from runway without leaving a line of spoil behind. It will assist in smoothing the snow during pavement rolling. It will also be used in maintaining an improved route between the runway and the station.
Land plane: (To be purchased next year.) While similar to a towed grader it is designed to remove long wavelength undulations from the runway surface. It is a very large piece of equipment and will provide the finishing touches to the airstrip.