Australia’s Antarctic aviation

A319 on the ice at Wilkins runway near Casey
A319 on the ice at Wilkins runway near Casey (Photo: Glenn Jacobson)
The C17-A Globemaster aircraft at Wilkins Aerodrome in East Antarctica.Pallets of supplies attached to parachutes drop from the tail end of a C-17A aircraft.A Basler aircraft in the foreground, with A319 aircraft in the backgroundRed helicopter on helipad on the ship deck, with the deck officer standing in front of two expeditioners waiting to board

The Australian Antarctic aviation system consists of regular intercontinental and intracontinental air services.

An intercontinental Airlink operates from Hobart, Australia to Wilkins Aerodrome near Casey. This route is flown by an Airbus A319-115LR and Royal Australian Air Force C17-A Globemaster III.

The A319 moves approximately 400 passengers each summer season. It can also transport a limited amount of high priority, lightweight cargo. The C17-A can take 72 tonnes of cargo in ‘heavy lift flights’. It can airdrop essential supplies and equipment year-round, including in winter when the stations are usually inaccessible.

Intracontinental services are provided by fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. These link the stations and provide access to other areas of Antarctica for scientific field work.