The Australian Antarctic Division’s summer program will remain on track with the charter of a ski-equipped Twin Otter aircraft after one of its planes was damaged in a hard landing in Antarctica earlier this week.
The Twin Otter will join the Division’s other CASA 212–400 to enable the recovery of the damaged plane, which remains at Bunger Hills after hitting some sastrugi (hard, ridged ice) while landing on Monday.
The two pilots and two engineers on board the plane were not injured in the incident.
The Antarctic Division’s Acting Director, Dr Rob Wooding, said it was hoped the Twin Otter would arrive in Antarctica within three weeks.
“This is a good solution to a challenging situation and will allow the Antarctic season to continue as originally planned,” Dr Wooding said.
“The net cost of the Twin Otter will be in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars. We expect this will be covered by insurance and some minor budget adjustments and will have no impact on the planned season activities.”
Meanwhile, the four air crew at Bunger Hills, near Casey station, are using tools air-dropped by the serviceable CASA 212–400 to clear parts of the landing area affected by sastrugi.
This will allow the CASA to land early next week and retrieve pictures and data of the damaged plane to be sent back to Australia for expert engineering assessment.
The crew at Bunger Hills will then return to Casey station for several days of rest and recuperation.