The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) has again awarded its helicopter contract for work in Antarctica over the next five years to Australian company, Helicopter Resources Pty Ltd.

AAD Air Transport Manager Charlton Clark said that the $7.5 million contract chalked up a remarkably successful 25-year association between the two organisations.

Mr Clark said that in addition to its connection with the AAD, Helicopter Resources Pty Ltd had flown in Antarctica with other countries’ programs giving it, in all, 28 years and more than 23,000 hours of flight operations on the frozen continent.

“This includes deployment on behalf of relevant government agencies for the governments of Germany, China, Italy and Pakistan over a vast area of Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Heard and Macquarie Islands.

“While the head office of Helicopters Resources is in Victoria, its Tasmanian operations which support Australia’s Antarctic Programme has been located at Hobart’s Cambridge Airport since 1985 signalling the company’s commitment to its relationship with the AAD.

“Tasmanian manager of Helicopter Resources and pilot, Leigh Hornsby, has participated in expeditions to Antarctica for the past quarter of a century and, in 1995, received the Australian Antarctic Medal which is awarded to those who have made a unique and significant contribution to service in Antarctica outside of normal duties.

“Antarctica is renowned for its ability to throw up unexpected weather conditions without warning. The AAD has been particularly fortunate in its association with Leigh Hornsby and his team on whose expertise we can rely,” Mr Clark said.

The AAD has used helicopters in support of Antarctic operations since 1958. They have played a crucial role in maintaining the permanent stations of Mawson, Casey, Davis and Macquarie Island.

The Eurocopter AS350BA ‘Squirrel’ helicopter, introduced to Antarctic service in 1986, is currently used in a variety of roles including assisting ship navigation through pack ice, ship to shore transfer of personnel and cargo and support of glaciological, oceanographical, biological and geological ship and station-based programs.