The Minister for Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell has today welcomed back Australia’s first dedicated Antarctic aircraft.

The two CASA 212s, named Gadget and Ginger after two dogs belonging to Australian scientist and polar explorer Douglas Mawson, arrived safely today after a 3400km, 10-hour flight. Strong tail winds assisted in the flight which arrived three hours ahead of schedule.

Senator Campbell congratulated the pilots Garry Studd, Barry Miller, Dan Colbourne, Eivind Eikli and Jorn Grosnet on their skill and expertise in handling the hazardous Antarctic conditions.

“Contending with extreme weather is part and parcel of flying in Antarctica and as conditions can change with little warning it’s important to have the right people at the controls,” Senator Campbell said.

“This is the first time Australia has used these specially-designed aircraft in Antarctica. They will continue to support the Government’s science program into the years ahead.”

The aircraft flew to Antarctica in mid-December. They were based mainly at Australia’s Davis station. They flew to our other two continental stations, Casey and Mawson, taking scientists and equipment to 'unprepared’ snow and ice skiways at deep field sites up to 500km in from the coast. They include the French-Italian base Dome C and the French base Dumont D’Urville and to connect with ship visits.

The longest intra-continental flight was from Casey to Davis, a distance of 1400km taking 5½ hours, to transfer personnel.

Compared with aircraft previously used to support Australia’s Antarctic program the CASAs greater payload and range have enabled more efficient movement of people and equipment.


The C212 aircraft is the first new large ski-equipped aircraft to begin operations in Antarctica in over 30 years.

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.