Preparing Australia's Antarctic ice runway

Snow blowers at work on the Wilkins runway
Snow blowers at work on the Wilkins runway (Photo: Steve McInnerney)
Snow blowers removing the winter snow accumulationWilkins Aerodrome infrastructure

Sub-zero temperatures and snow blowers are the order of the day at Australia’s Antarctic blue-ice runway ahead of the first flight of the season scheduled for October.

A small team of expeditioners are stationed at Wilkins Aerodrome, about 70 kilometres inland of Australia’s Casey research station, to prepare the 3.5 kilometre long blue-ice runway.

Australian Antarctic Division Aviation Manager, Aaron Read, said despite temperatures hovering around minus 20 degrees, the team are making good progress.

“There are currently three plant operators and one mechanic at the Aerodrome to clear the winter snow, re-establish the runway including proof rolling, surveying, grading and marking, and set up the remote facility infrastructure,” Mr Read said.

The first flight of the season is expected to touch down on 28 October.

“This season there will be about 18 inter-continental flights between Australia and Wilkins, using the A319 and C-17A planes, and about 20 intra-continental flights using the Twin Otter and Basler.”

Wilkins Aerodrome operates between October and March each year.

More information

Wilkins Aerodrome