Gadget and Ginger, the two new aircraft to support Australia’s Antarctic program, have arrived safely in Antarctica, 11 hours and more than 1860 nautical miles after leaving Hobart yesterday (Wednesday 29 December).

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the historic flights signalled an exciting new era for Australia’s Antarctic program.

“The new CASA 212 aircraft will be used for an intra-continental service in Antarctica, allowing us to reach areas that were previously inaccessible except by land traverse or a combination of smaller aircraft and overland transport,” Senator Campbell said.

“They will also be used to transfer personnel and equipment between Australia’s Antarctic stations. This means we can do business more efficiently.”

The Australian Government, through the Australian Antarctic Division, has been working closely with the aircraft manufacturers, the Sydney-based aircraft operators Skytraders Pty Ltd, and numerous regulatory authorities, for the successful and safe delivery of this essential support service to scientific research programs in Antarctica. The decision on when to fly was dependent on weather conditions and the Bureau of Meteorology played a pivotal role in ensuring accurate information was available at all times.

“Today sees the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by the many players involved,” Senator Campbell said.

After leaving Hobart a few hours apart yesterday morning, the aircraft landed at the French Antarctic station of Dumont D’Urville to refuel and will continue on to Australia’s Casey station later today. They will begin work in Antarctica after routine checks following the long-haul flight.

Gadget and Ginger were named by Australian school children after two huskies that served with Australian scientist and polar explorer Douglas Mawson on his 1911–1914 expedition.

Further information

Aircraft details

CASA — a subsidiary of European Aeronautic Defence and Space company (EADS) makers of Ariane, Airbus and Eurocopter.

CASA 212–400

  • the latest light-transport aircraft to be produced by EADS.
  • twin turbo-prop featuring digital cockpit to reduce pilot workload.
  • comprehensive communication and navigation suite.
  • Equipped with the latest generation turbine engines, it can move larger payloads over longer distances with a fuel efficiency that now allows non-stop flights between all Australian stations.

Operators — Sydney-based Skytraders Pty Ltd will operate the aircraft for the AAD after the signing of a 12-year contract in June 2003.