New Antarctic bus

A new bus with balloon tyres weighing half a tonne each, will provide an enhanced level of comfort and service as it transports expeditioners between Wilkins Aerodrome and Casey research station this summer.

The $1.2 million, 22 tonne vehicle will carry 36 expeditioners; 17 more than the current steel-tracked bus, which has been in service since 2008.

Australian Antarctic Division Mechanical Supervisor, Cameron Frost, said the new bus has been specially designed for Antarctic conditions.

“The bus was manufactured in Calgary and is a smaller version of the buses used for glacier tours in Canada and by the United States Antarctic Program at McMurdo Station,” he said.

“It has six all-terrain balloon tyres, measuring 1.5 metres high, which are designed to help it drive smoothly over soft, snowy surfaces; while electric and diesel heaters will keep the engine and passengers warm in sub-zero temperatures.”

The engine is the same as those in cranes used at Casey station, enabling the diesel mechanics to service the vehicle and interchange parts when required.

The new bus will accommodate most of the 38 passengers delivered to Wilkins Aerodrome on each flight of the A319 intercontinental aircraft.